February 28, 2007

Why Rudy

I'm warming up to Rudy, more and more, despite the DAWG stuff.

But here's another reason.

Taranto recounts the story of professor at a prestigious university telling him, at a party, back in 1993 that someone needed to "assassinate" Rudy Giuliani.

If he drives liberals that sort of batshit, pro-assassination crazy, he can't be that liberal, can he?

There was a Giuliani Derangement Syndrome in NYC through the nineties. That fact alone should be somewhat comforting to conservatives fearing his nomination.


Indeed, I remember that. They hated him.

But jk thinks:

Welcome aboard! TNR has a story Giuliani: Worse Than Bush?" (To be fair, the text doesn’t live up to the headline). But it's fair to judge a man by the enemies he keeps.

On DAWG, we must remember that a true blockhead-Luddite- science-refutin'-denyer has not yet thrown his endangered white rhino hide hat into the ring.

Posted by: jk at February 28, 2007 6:57 PM

America Supports You

I've been meaning to link to this site for a while....

http://americasupportsyou.mil

It's a great place to start if you're looking to help the troops out abroad.

Posted by AlexC at 4:27 PM

February 27, 2007

Who's he think he is -- Edwards?

John Fund, in OpinionJournal Politoical Diary:

Al Gore's Energy Policy: Less for You, More for Me

Only hours after basking in the warm glow of Hollywood's cultural elite, Al Gore took two nasty PR hits that tarnished his Oscar victory. It was revealed that acting Cuban President Raul Castro had lavished praise on the former vice president's anti-global warming film and even required that it be shown in primetime on Cuba's official television networks. Not exactly the endorsement a potential Democratic presidential candidate would want.

Then it was revealed that Mr. Gore's sprawling mansion in Nashville was consuming 20 times the power of a typical American household, and that its consumption had actually increased since the release of the Gore film, in which the former vice president can be seen telling audiences they should curb their use of electric power.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research obtained public records that showed Mr. Gore's mansion in the tony Belle Meade neighborhood has been consuming a monthly average of 18,414 kilowatt-hours, nearly twice what the average American home consumes in an entire year. His electric bill averaged $1359 a month in 2006 and his gas bill was $536. His heated pool house alone consumed more natural gas than his entire main living quarters.

Mr. Gore's office responded with a lame statement claiming that his energy consumption was appropriate because he obtained all of it from a local "powerswitch" program that used 100% renewable fuels, whatever that means. His office also claimed that his home was in the midst of a renovation that would include the addition of solar panels to his roof.

No doubt the controversy over Mr. Gore's power gluttony will fade away, but it illustrates a classic example of how liberals who believe the rest of the world should lower its expectations for the good life often find it hard to follow that advice in their own daily routines.

UPDATE: Wizbang compares it to that evil George W. Bush's home:

The 4,000-square-foot house is a model of environmental rectitude

Geothermal heat pumps located in a central closet circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees; the water heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. Systems such as the one in this "eco-friendly" dwelling use about 25% of the electricity that traditional heating and cooling systems utilize.
A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof runs; wastewater from sinks, toilets and showers goes into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is used to irrigate the landscaping surrounding the four-bedroom home. Plants and flowers native to the high prairie area blend the structure into the surrounding ecosystem.
No, this is not the home of some eccentrically wealthy eco-freak trying to shame his fellow citizens into following the pristineness of his self-righteous example. And no, it is not the wilderness retreat of the Sierra Club or the Natural Resources Defense Council, a haven where tree-huggers plot political strategy.
This is President George W. Bush's "Texas White House" outside the small town of Crawford.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

UPDATE II: This is really much ado about nothing. I accept VP Gore's defense:

"My energy use is carbon neutral because I balance my electricity, natural gas, and jet-fuel use with the consumption of cows. Every cow I eat removes hundreds of pounds of methane gas from the atmosphere"

Posted by: jk at February 27, 2007 3:21 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

Who rights Gore's press releases, George Orwell??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 27, 2007 7:53 PM

Anna Nicole Smith

You thought ThreeSources would not weigh in on the already weighty news matters of the time? Two thoughts:

1) How can lefties really worry about the impact of FOXNews? Trust me, they are always way too busy chasing after (Chandra Levy/Laci Petersen/Natalee Holloway/Anna Nicole Smith/&c) to really promote any kind of conservative political vision. There’s only 24 times seven in a week and some woman is always missing in a country of 300 million.

2) I was jarred out of complacency by this TCS story Douglas Kern also wonders "Who is this odd, dead, clownish blonde woman whose ghost has apparently taken the international mass media hostage?" But he follows it with a compelling point about free will.

But would Smith have wanted her life any other way? Suppose an angel had descended upon our heroine back in 1991, and said to her: "Look, your life can go in two directions here. If you walk away from this doddering old man now, you can spend your days working jobs that involve hairnets and nametags, bounce around in dreary relationships with an uninspiring array of greasy working-class schlubs, bear a few kids by a few dads, enjoy a few years of cut-rate Peyton Place drama for the six or seven years that your looks hold out, and then putter along doing nothing of relevance until Social Security kicks in, so you can watch daytime TV for hours on end in your battered old trailer until your heart gives out at age 93. Then again, if you go with the old guy, you'll achieve worldwide fame, huge amounts of money, and a marriage that will make you a billionaire in theory. Adolescent males around the globe will be ogling your naughty pictures on the Internet for years, perhaps centuries. You'll star in your own TV show, endorse products for nationwide advertisements, travel the world, have sex with the world's most eligible bachelors, take the best drugs, and live a life of hedonistic bliss punctuated only by occasional moments of family tragedy, until you die suddenly of acute celebrity-itis at age 39. Which will it be?"

You put it like that...

UPDATE: Spelling fixed Nichole/Nicole

Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Most of the country has forgotten the devastation of 9/11, and the fact that our nation is at war for the defense of civilization - why should Fox News Channel be any different?

And if you want the tabloid traffic on our site you'll have to spell her name correctly:

Anna Nicole Smith! Anna Nicole Smith! Anna Nicole Smith!


Pictures!

(gratuitous, I know)

Posted by: johngalt at February 28, 2007 10:39 AM
But jk thinks:

You're absolutely right; ThreeSources regrets the error.

Are people really trolling for pix? De mortuis nil nisi bonum and all that, but is she really attractive? Are there better ANNA NICOLE SMITH PICTURES than the ones I see on the news?

Posted by: jk at February 28, 2007 11:23 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Personally, I couldn't say. But she was a PLAYMATE.

(If there's a God we're both gonna die.) ;)

Posted by: johngalt at February 28, 2007 3:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps I need to find and post those pictures so that we may have an informed discussion.

Then again, jg, a couple of married men might meet violent ends through purely secular phenomena.

Posted by: jk at February 28, 2007 4:16 PM

Golden in CA

Michael McClellan has a a good piece in TCS Daily "Why Giuliani Is Golden."

He encounters California Republicans who, like me, value McCain's military service and respect his dedication to the war -- but, also like me, don't trust him and cannot completely forgive him for past actions. I think this point captures it:

Given their disparate ascents to the national stage, Giuliani's enduring image is more conservative than McCain's. At the risk of oversimplifying, it is perhaps fair to say that Giuliani's image is loudly conservative and quietly moderate, whereas McCain's image is loudly moderate and quietly conservative. These disparate images have taken hold among California Republicans, and Giuliani's image is blowing McCain's out of the water.

I still stay up late at night worrying about what the Clinton oppo-research machine has on the non-parsimonious pol. But I m settling more on his candidacy every day.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM

TEDTalks

I've just discovered a very bad time sink at the exact wrong time in my life, but have y'all see TEDTalks?

I found this one on Classical Values (H/T Insty) and it is awesome. Here's the description:

Steven Levitt is an economics professor at the University of Chicago and the best-selling author of Freakonomics. In this talk, filmed at TED2004, he goes inside an inner-city gang to examine economic principles at work in the real world. (Recorded February 2004 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 22:00)

The series is sponsored by BMW, and I went a Googling (actually, I’m a Yahoo guy still) for TED and TEDTalks.

The editorial slant looks distinctly left of center, but they advertise a talk by Bjorn Lomborg that we're worrying about the wrong thing with Global Warming, and they have a couple talks by his VicePresidentness himself, Mr. Albert Gore, Jr.

I prefer blogs to podcasts and most video because I find it easy to read a column while I wait for a machine to reboot or a program to compile. Double-digit minutes of devoted attention are productivity sappers. But there are a pile of these TEDTalks I have to see.

I wanted to post about this one and not the series, because it speaks to something that was very important to me before 9/11. I took some of the same ideas Levitt takes from the research from the novel "Clockers" by Richard Price. The problem is the lure of money in illegal drug sales as recruitment for gang membership.

Levitt points out that it's "the worst job in the world" but also that the idea of rising in the organization to a senior level is pretty alluring against other inner city opportunities. The drug war is government intrusion into economics as surely as ethanol subsidies. Levitt points out how the economics changed with the introduction of crack cocaine.

Whether you agree with my libertarian view of the drug war or not, this is a fascinating, entertaining, and smart piece on application of economic principles. At the end, you even enjoy economic principles translated into gangspeak.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:01 AM

February 26, 2007

jk defends President Clinton

Mark the date, these planets may not align for another decade or two.

Extreme Mortman joins a chorus of folks who are overwhelmed by President Clinton's sizeable remuneration from speaking engagements. Mortman at least gets a great riff out of it:

Now whether or not you agree with the thrust of Gore’s global warming message, there’s some charm in internationally crusading for a cause you believe in.

Contrast Gore’s nobility with Bill Clinton. We learned in Friday’s Post story about Clinton’s multi-million dollar speaking gigs that, “Two-thirds of the former president’s speaking money has come from foreign sources.”

Wonder if, instead of Gore, it were Clinton on stage accepting an Oscar tonight, he’d charge a speaking fee.


I don't want Chairman Dingell to say that CEOs make too much money. And I am certainly not going to tell our 42nd President not to accept compensation offered without coercion.

I also remember Bill Clinton's causing a lot more trouble when he was receiving his modest government salary. A little industrious earning seems to have been good for him -- and us.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:41 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

There's only one small problem with your 'defense of Clinton' argument: Coercion.

There may not be any vis-a-vis his speaking fee, but if his wife is elected "Ms. POTUS," watch out.

Are these fee payers,

A) Financing Ms. Clinton's presidential campaign outside of campaign finance laws?
B) Securing influence with the Clinton's in the event she is elected President?
C) Attempting to manipulate markets for their products (or any ol' darn thing) by the power of celebrity?
D) All of the above.

More interesting than the Mortman post is Friday's Post story.

Posted by: johngalt at February 28, 2007 3:46 PM
But jk thinks:

No, I'm not going to turn on my new little buddy based on distant appearances of conflicts of interest. President Clinton is a private citizen now, he can make his own deals.

Of course he remains plugged into politics and his wife is running. I don't think that rises to the level of coercion.

I'm not going to regulate CEO pay or seek better enforcement of campaign finance regulations. He brings value to the venues at which hew speaks, he might as well profit from it.

Posted by: jk at February 28, 2007 4:13 PM

Obamanomix

Thomas Sowell shows again today why he cannot ride on the same plane as Walter Williams. Dr. Sowell is not sold on the economic agenda of Senator Barack Obama.

Senator Obama is being hailed as the newest and freshest face on the American political scene. But he is advocating some of the oldest fallacies, just as if it was the 1960s again, or as if he has learned nothing and forgotten nothing since then.

He thinks higher teacher pay is the answer to the abysmal failures of our education system, which is already far more expensive than the education provided in countries whose students have for decades consistently outperformed ours on international tests.

Senator Obama is for making college "affordable," as if he has never considered that government subsidies push up tuition, just as government subsidies push up agricultural prices, the price of medical care and other prices.

He is also for "alternative fuels," without the slightest thought about the prices of those fuels or the implications of those prices. All this is the old liberal agenda from years past, old wine in new bottles, a new face with old ideas that have been tried and failed repeatedly over the past generation.

Senator Obama is not unique among politicians who want to control prices, as if that is controlling the underlying reality behind the prices.


Hat-tip: Gregory Mankiw

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:41 PM

I Cannot Support This Guy

Unless Hizzoner Mayor Giuliani comes out this week for Nationalized Oil, he has my support all the way. His competitors for the GOP 2008 nomination have disqualified themselves.

McCain's tiresome California rant against the Bush Administration sent me packing last week. I was going to purchase the domain readytosettleformccain.com but I'm not -- hit GoDaddy, it's up for grabs if you want it,

I don't care if Governor Romney is Mormon, Rosicrucian or Zoroastrian. But his --let me be fair, here -- insane health care boondoggle portends poorly for his belief in markets and liberal economics.

Sally Pipes writes in the WSJ Ed Page today (paid link) that RomneyCare is more than 150% over budget, not meeting its goals, and premiums are 150% of estimations as well.

When then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, introduced a universal health-insurance plan in the Bay State early last year, it was widely acclaimed. But less than a year after passage, RomneyCare is in the intensive care unit, soon to be wheeled into hospice.

The first signs of trouble appeared last August. In a filing to support general obligation bonds, officials projected that the new plan would increase state government health-care spending by $276.4 million in 2007. That's $151 million more than what the public had been told the plan would cost. Meanwhile, the state's new bureaucracy, busily signing up people for free care, has run into trouble finding affordable plans for those who have to pay. The premiums for subsidized plans would consume up to 6% of a person's income -- prompting calls from activists and echoes from politicians that they should be exempted from the individual mandate. So much for universal coverage.

Reality fully hit in late January of this year, when private insurers submitted bids to the bureaucracy that would administer the new program. The average premium for the unsubsidized plans was not $200 per month -- as Mr. Romney promised from the stump -- but rather $380. That's more than 15% of the target audiences' income -- and for a plan with a $2,000 deductible and a total cost


Yes, it's better than single-payer. But if we must have such government intrusion into health care, let's not put a Republican's name on it. Let's give libertarian-leaners a thread of reward for supporting the GOP.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:51 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Charlie on the PA Tpk thinks:

Having been born and raised in NYC, and still working in the greater NY area to this day, I saw a lot of Mr. Guiliani's efforts first hand.

I worked in midtown in the years between his predecessor and Mr. Guiliani's term, and the change in the city was more than obvious to the naked eye (and in regards to Time Sq, please excuse that pun).

So in comparison to the current declared candidates, Mr. G has my support.

But I do hope he doesn't call himself a Conservative... that's just wrong.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Tpk at February 26, 2007 2:21 PM

They Don't Make Democrats Like This Anymore

Senator Lieberman, in a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal (free link)

But we must not make another terrible mistake now. Many of the worst errors in Iraq arose precisely because the Bush administration best-cased what would happen after Saddam was overthrown. Now many opponents of the war are making the very same best-case mistake--assuming we can pull back in the midst of a critical battle with impunity, even arguing that our retreat will reduce the terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq.

In fact, halting the current security operation at midpoint, as virtually all of the congressional proposals seek to do, would have devastating consequences. It would put thousands of American troops already deployed in the heart of Baghdad in even greater danger--forced to choose between trying to hold their position without the required reinforcements or, more likely, abandoning them outright. A precipitous pullout would leave a gaping security vacuum in its wake, which terrorists, insurgents, militias and Iran would rush to fill--probably resulting in a spiral of ethnic cleansing and slaughter on a scale as yet unseen in Iraq.

I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next. Instead of undermining Gen. Petraeus before he has been in Iraq for even a month, let us give him and his troops the time and support they need to succeed.


That's a responsible opposition position. He understands the gravity of the fight, the souring position held by the electorate. He doesn't line up and salute but he supports his own vote to confirm General Petraeus.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:17 AM

They Will Hold Their Manhood Cheap

...that they did not fight with Prince Harry on St. Crispen's Day.

I join Bret Stephens of the The Journal Editorial Report in applauding a particular UK troop deployment:

[Paul] Gigot: Next, on the heels of the British government announcing it will withdraw some troops from Iraq, comes news of a notable deployment. Bret?

Stephens: Yes, well, once upon a time, there was an English prince, who went by the nickname Harry--most of us know him better as Henry V--who had what you might call a misspent youth and then found his place in history on the battlefield called Agincourt. Well, today, there's another English prince, also called Harry, also with something of what you might call a misspent youth, who is now, by his own choice, going to be deploying to Iraq to lead a squad of soldiers in southern Iraq. And I think a lot of people wonder what the purpose of an aristocracy is, especially when most European aristocrats spend their time disgracing themselves on the pages of HELLO! I think young Harry is showing what that purpose is. It is to set an example. And I think he's made the British very proud.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:01 AM

February 25, 2007

Murtha Stumbles

Those are the words of WaPo staff writers, Jonathan Weisman and Lyndsey Layton, not me. They point out that the plan was to unite Democrats and divide Republicans. But...

But a botched launch by the plan's author, Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), has united Republicans and divided Democrats, sending the latter back to the drawing board just a week before scheduled legislative action, a score of House Democratic lawmakers said last week.

"If this is going to be legislation that's crafted in such a way that holds back resources from our troops, that is a non-starter, an absolute non-starter," declared Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah), a leader of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

Murtha's credentials as a Marine combat veteran, a critic of the war and close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) were supposed to make him an unassailable spokesman for Democratic war policy. Instead, he has become a lightning rod for criticism from Republicans and members of his own party.


Sorry Rep. Murtha is having a bad day, but when you can't get the Washington Post on board for some antiwar and anti-administration politicking, you have a problem.

I'm thinking some "Don't blame me, I supported Irey" T-Shirts might be good right about now...

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM

Quarter Century

A little personal item on the weekend if I may...

For 24 years, my wife and I celebrated the "anniversary of our first date" on February 25. Today, the 25th anniversary, I realized that what I really celebrate is my last date. Twenty-five years ago, I realized very quickly that I had found her and I never went out with another woman. If there is one thing I don't miss, it would be dating.

We married a year and half later and have done the for-richer-for-poorer, as well as the sickness-and-in-health bits.

Cheers!
jk

Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Congratulations!!! I always pictured you as an under 40-type. I guess not!

Posted by: AlexC at February 25, 2007 7:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I didn't say we weren't children!

Thanks anyway (I'm 46).

Posted by: jk at February 26, 2007 9:53 AM

February 24, 2007

Hope!

Fiscal HAWK Mark Sanford...

- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who has yet to offer an endorsement in the 2008 Republican presidential contest, said today that he would not completely rule out accepting the number two spot on the ticket.

"Anybody who says they wouldn't look at something of that magnitude isn't being honest," Sanford said in an interview from his Capitol office.

Sanford, who won a convincing re-election last fall, cautioned that because of his four young sons (or "family dynamics," as he put it), he is unlikely to continue in elected office past 2010, but said he still wants to remain in the policy arena.

"We want to look for a way we can continue to advance ideas," said the former maverick congressman and wonk in an office that included a healthy stack of books.

But jk thinks:

Mort Kondracke teased Fred Barnes on FOXNews's "Beltway Boys" that "[Barnes’s] heroes, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mark Sanford, have both come out supporting man-made global warming."

All the same, sign me up for a Giuliani-Sanford ticket.

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2007 12:03 PM
But jk thinks:

UPDATE: Sanford embraces the DAWG, but writes a smart piece calling for conservatives to enter the debate and not allow the left to enact top-down government heavy solutions.

It's a good read.

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2007 12:18 PM

February 23, 2007

A World Without America

UPDATE: If, like jk, your browser barfs on YouTube's schockwave player, here's a link.

Posted by AlexC at 1:13 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Cross-posted, as always.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 24, 2007 11:38 AM

Ten Largest Databases

Business Intelligence Lowdown: Top 10 Largest Databases in the World

There are currently organizations around the world in the business of amassing collections of things, and their collections number into and above the trillions. In many cases these collections, or databases, consist of items we use every day.

Hat-tip: Club for growth

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM

Nonsensical Ideas

Must read

But jk thinks:

I must agree with Jay Nordlinger. Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell must never be allowed to ride on a plane together. The country could simply not bear to lose those two.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2007 11:09 AM
But Terri thinks:

Great read! Thanks for posting.

Posted by: Terri at February 24, 2007 10:08 AM

Democracy Midwifed

There is another casualty of the partisanship that has turned the Iraqi liberation into "Bush's War" and formed a solid line of Democrats in opposition. We're missing the political twists and turns as a new nation is birthed in the fecund Mesopotamian crescent.

The Wall Street Journal (news pages) reports today that Ahmed Chalabi has a new position in the government.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- In his latest remarkable political reincarnation, onetime U.S. favorite Ahmed Chalabi has secured a position inside the Iraqi government that could help determine whether the Bush administration's new push to secure Baghdad succeeds.

In a new post created earlier this year, Mr. Chalabi will serve as an intermediary between Baghdad residents and the Iraqi and U.S. security forces mounting an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign across the city. The position is meant to help Iraqis arrange reimbursement for damage to their cars and homes caused by the security sweeps in the hope of maintaining public support for the strategy.


I don't blame partisan wrangling, the insurgency has been very adept at impeding the birth of civil society. I think the opponents have played into their hands.

Put me in those polls where a majority of Americans still see and demand success. Give General Petraeus a chance. Then, instead of sniping at the administration from the sidelines, watch an inchoate nation unfold, real time.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:12 AM

February 22, 2007

Nancy Polling

The Trekmedic is polling.

Squeaker of the Mouse Nancy Pelosi has spoken effusively about her children and grandchildren and how they've shaped her management style. Yet, she is the de facto head of the Democratic Party, which supports abortion on-demand and every level of government involvement.

Make a difference.

Congress Posted by AlexC at 11:12 PM

Sirius/XM Merger Powerpoint

Power Corrupts. Power Point corrupts absolutely.

I hate to advise sitting through a power point you don’t have to, but brother ac sends a link to the Sirius / XM merger presentation. I found it very interesting.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:55 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

leveraging synergies my friend.
leveraging synergies.

Posted by: AlexC at February 22, 2007 11:14 PM

McCain Chooses DAWG, jk chooses Giuliani

Blog brother AlexC was disappointed with Mayor Giuliani’s acceptance of global warming.

I looked for a brick to throw at the TV last night, when Senator McCain was waltzing around the Golden State bashing the President. The LATimes sez McCain slams Bush on global warming, Iraq policy

"I would assess this administration's record on global warming as terrible," McCain said, recalling that he got "no cooperation from the administration" at Senate hearings on the subject. He pronounced himself "very happy to see the president mention global warming and a renewed commitment from the administration to this issue." But he added tartly: "It's long overdue."

Overdue Senator, is my endorsement of your opponent in the GOP primaries.

He can believe what he wants, and he can certainly criticize an unpopular president in the geographic locus of his unpopularity. But the grandstanding, self-righteous McCain was on display yesterday -- and I really don't like that guy. I will, of course, support Senator McCain should he win the GOP nomination, but I will not support him in the primaries.

Giuliani 2008.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:36 PM

Liberalism from Liberals

It's always a shock, but sometimes the "progressives" can surprise you with a little liberalism.


David Greenberg writes in TNR that perhaps the left should not be the cheerleaders for prosecutorial abuse, even would it net them the head of Scooter Libby.

But I think my fellow liberals, partaking in some hypocrisy of their own, have failed to grasp the true toll of this inquisition. We're supposed to be champions of the First Amendment and foes of overzealous prosecutors. For most of the postwar era, we were the ones who demanded greater exposure of government secrets, sharper skepticism about blanket claims of "national security," and stronger support for reporters against the assaults of the organized right. In keeping with those convictions, we should have protested this overwrought case from the start. In fact, applauding it actually benefits the Bush administration--and future regimes of its ilk--by further sanctifying secrecy and demonizing the press.

Greenberg also offers up the irony of his side's sudden antipathy for mainstream press and the Fourth Estate. I'll applaud his forward look at ideals over quotidian politics. He knows it might just come around.
I don't think liberals have totally forsaken their values. In cases like the wiretapping story, they've summoned their time-honored revulsion at government attempts to squelch information. But, regarding Libby, the left has acted differently. It has succumbed to an antipathy toward an unsavory White House operative and a few unloved journalists and has cheered on a crusading prosecutor's misguided tribunals. Everyone should have a moment to gloat. But we all would do well to recall that, if today it is Dick Cheney's henchman who stands in the dock, tomorrow it may be someone else's--John Edwards's, Hillary Clinton's, or Barack Obama's.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM

February 21, 2007

The Tax Bite

This is an interesting calculation.

Taxes take a bigger bite out of the Big Apple than any other urban area in the nation, according to an analysis released Wednesday.

The Independent Budget Office report said local government taxes absorb $9.02 of every $100 of taxable resources here. The rate is 47 percent more than the $6.16 average for the most populous U.S. cities.

"No other large city comes close," the report said.

After New York, Philadelphia rated next highest, with $7.16 per $100, and Los Angeles followed with $6.88. Of the nine cities, Dallas had the lowest rate, with $5.20 per $100.

To reach those numbers, analysts estimated each city's gross taxable resources, made up of city household incomes and business surpluses , in other words, the main spending power used to pay taxes. For New York, that number is $502.1 billion. The portion of tax capacity being used by government was calculated using direct municipal taxes, estimated state collections within a city, and any overlapping local governments like counties.

But jk thinks:

The deductibility of local taxes and the AMT conspire to make this an opportunity for tax reform. Democrats in those blue areas seek AMT reform for their constituents, there might be a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts.

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2007 11:59 AM

I disappointed my Dad, too.

Ian at Benevolent Misanthropy posts this sad story, noting that it is neither surprising nor unique.

A father killed his wife and four daughters in their sleep because he could not bear them adopting a more westernised lifestyle, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mohammed Riaz, 49, found it abhorrent that his eldest daughter wanted to be a fashion designer, and that she and her sisters were likely to reject the Muslim tradition of arranged marriages.


Their lives are not yours to take, Sir. That is the fundamental bankruptcy of that belief system.

Sorry for the flippant headline. My father was indeed devastated when I left school to pursue a musical career. But he knew the wise words of the Lebanese poet Kalil Gibran, "Your children are not your children."

Jihad Posted by John Kranz at 7:52 PM

Sarb, Ox & Spitz

Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata.net:

Last year, more than 350 companies went public in Europe, selling $86 billion of stock, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In the U.S., 235 companies raised $48 billion in IPOs. In 1999, 507 companies went public in the U.S., selling a combined $63.93 billion of stock. Not one of the 10 largest stock issues of 2006 was listed in New York.

Pearce thanks Messrs Sarbanes, Oxley and Spitzer.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM

The Power of Arbitrary

Greg Mankiw gets off a good one at the expense of former Clinton Labhor Secretary and weekly Kudlow Guest, Robert Reich.

Robert Reich says that, as a requirement for free trade deals, we should tell developing countries to "set a minimum wage that's half their median wage." The proposal raises two questions in my mind:

1. Does Reich pay his nanny, cleaning person, and gardener more than half the median wage of members of his family?

2. If not, should I refuse to buy his books?


"Half the median" has a nice academic ring to it, but it is yet another example of an arbitrary number that can be pulled out of one's ass. The Reich constant: under which it is moral to refuse to trade with members of another nation. No word on how people from sub-Reichconstantian nations will raise their incomes without access to trade.

A current ballot initiative in my hometown questions whether land (pretty close to my house) will be annexed into the city to house open space and a Lowe's store. Opponents have a lawn sign" "No on A: Enough is Enough."

I see those signs and ask "who put you in charge of enough?" Business developers will invest their own capital, believing enough is not yet enough.

But johngalt thinks:

I've seen those signs. I thought they were for another school bond measure. (Silly me.)

Isn't it ironic that, in order for other nations to enter into "free" trade with us, Reich believes we should insist that they ban free trade of labor within their borders?

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2007 2:34 AM

40%

In case you were wondering what our effective tax rate is.

In a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Boston University economists Laurence J. Kotlikoff and David Rapson have found that our all-in marginal tax rate is 40%, give or take a bit. Yes, you read that right: 40%.

Most workers will pay about that much on each dollar of income when all taxes -- federal and state income taxes, sales taxes, taxes for benefit programs, etc. -- are considered.

As a consequence, a 30-year-old couple earning only $20,000 a year has a marginal tax rate of 42.5%, while a 45-year-old couple earning $500,000 pays at 43.2%. There are some exceptions: A 30-year-old couple earning $50,000 a year, for instance, pays 24.4%, and a 60-year-old couple making $150,000 a year faces a tax rate of 47.7%.

The average marginal tax rate on incomes between $20,000 and $500,000 is 40.3%, the median tax rate is 41.8%, and the standard deviation of all of those rates is 5.3 percentage points. Basically, most of us pay about 40%, plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.


(tip to Club for Growth)

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 2:56 PM

Secular Schools

Arnold Kling has an excellent piece today in TCS. The man who brought us the superb coinage "Folk Marxism" now chooses to be called a "Civil Societarian" rather than a libertarian.

To excerpt the article too heavily is to risk reducing it to a few of its parts. I encourage people to read the whole thing.

A recurring theme is the "religiosity" of progressivism.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to draw the line between church and state in public schools. To me, the only way to separate church and state in schooling is to have private schools. Getting government out of the schooling business would return schooling to the realm of civil society, where values and ethics may be taught without inhibition.

The religion of the public school system tends to be a mixture of environmentalism, political correctness, and worship of big government. Many private schools preach the same thing, so perhaps little would change if we had a system of all private education. However, if there is any chance that students might delve more deeply into issues of ethics and social problems, it would be in a setting that is not constrained by government bureaucracy.
[...]
Liberals worry that religious conservatives will impose a Christian theocracy. That threat is both obvious and far-fetched. Instead, I wish that liberals could recognize the dangers that their own religion poses to civil society. Price controls on pharmaceuticals would represent a much more serious war on science than denial of funds for embryonic stem cell research (although I personally would not oppose such government funding).


There's more in there, including what I think is a reasonable claim about our propensity to tie our beliefs into a larger picture.
We need to love something larger than ourselves. Many people love God. Perhaps civil societarians can love our ideal of a civil society. I am happy to love the flag and the republic for which it stands. Just not in public schools.


Education Posted by John Kranz at 1:53 PM

Sirius-XM Merger

I suggested last month that an XM-Sirius merger would not be approved by a Democratic 110th Congress and I am not giving up on that speculation.

Against prescience points, however, I am hoping for the deal to succeed. I don't think either firm is strong enough to compete and innovate by itself. A strong satellite provider could bring new offerings to the market. (Maybe I'll even get my beloved Luna back.)

The real issue is whether our beloved Federal government will continue to meddle in business, based on ghosts of Theodore Roosevelt and robber barons. The WSJ Ed Page joins me (paid link, sorry) in realizing that the market is too complex for regulators to understand.

Beltway critics of the deal see a media monopolist around every corner, scheming to limit the public's access to content. And it's true that the merger would create a lone satellite radio company. But a pure monopoly is one that exists in a market where there are no close substitutes. By contrast, a combined Sirius-XM would have to compete not only with free broadcast radio but also with MP3 players, online radio and even music channels offered by cable providers.

Heaven only knows what the cellular companies will bring to the party. They're already gearing up to provide more video options, but there's nothing stopping Verizon or Cingular from coming up with a device that includes a couple of dozen radio stations to compete with satellite.

Which is why the real danger here isn't the creation of a "monopoly," unless you define the market in a way that has no resemblance to the real world. The bigger concern is that regulators will repeat the satellite television mistake and in the process reduce consumer choice. "The reason for this merger is not to exclude others from the market," says Adam Thierer, who follows telecom issues at the Progress & Freedom Foundation. "It's to make sure they can compete in the broader market against the various players they face -- serious competitors that have satellite radio providers scrambling for their lives."


If the shareholders wish to merge, let them. The idea that a global entertainment market is so segmented as to allow a monopoly is laughable.

But AlexC thinks:

As the resident ThreeSources Sirius lifetime subscriber, I wonder how this is going to work out in the end.

Somehow I think we're going to get a bland mix of the two services.

In terms of approval, I think there's plenty of competition to satellite radio. FM radio... AM is still around... iPod/Zune etc... they're all hanging around. I suspect most (sub)urban commuters are already plugged into an MP3 device of some sort in their cars or bus or subway.

We'll see, I guess.

Posted by: AlexC at February 21, 2007 10:52 AM
But jk thinks:

I think existing subscribers could benefit from the merger. Collapse the proprietary wall between the different receivers and allow subscribers to shop 300+ stations. You'd still end up with 100 hip hop stations and 100 bad country stations, but you could expand choice around the periphery.

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2007 11:29 AM
But AlexC thinks:

A neighbor of mine in the satellite business think they're going to go with the Sirius satellites because of their orbit (lower and less need for repeaters) vs XM's (geostationary orbit). XM's satellites can also be then leased out. I can't imagine that either has the bandwidth for 300 channels. Would any of the recievers support tat many?

Posted by: AlexC at February 21, 2007 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I have the -- admittedly unconventional -- view that Satellite Radio suffers from a lack of bandwidth.

I got 300 assuming that the merged company might be persuaded to keep both systems operating to keep current owners enrolled. New hardware might enable a single device to access both. Cable was "150 channels and nothing on" as Truman Capote said until cable TV had 500 channels to pursue a true long-tail strategy.

I think Satellite Radio needs a lot more choice to catch hold. It's competition is the iPod and they are going to have to provide more programming than either company does now.

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2007 3:56 PM

February 20, 2007

IBD Poll

Among many great reasons to be depressed, it's hard to top the polls showing that Americans do not believe they can win in Iraq, do not feel we can win in Iraq, and do not care whether we win in Iraq.

I suspect it has been finely inculcated, yet still stand silenced (not my normal state) when I hear my countrymen are willing to allow another Vietnam outcome. I risk cherry-picking a poll, but Larry Kudlow references an Investor Business Daily Poll that tells a different story.

Speaking of Investors Business Daily, they posted tremendous polling data last Friday on Iraq that you won’t read about in the mainstream media.

Contrary to common wisdom, most Americans want to win in Iraq.

The poll was conducted by IBD’s polling partner TIPP. This is Raghavan Mayur’s company and they are very accurate pollsters.

Based on 915 respondents, the IBD/TIPP poll revealed that as of February 7th, 66% believe that it's “very important” or “somewhat important” to win in Iraq. That includes 85 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Independents, and 53 percent of Democrats.

It goes on to say that 58 percent are “very hopeful” or “somewhat hopeful” of a U.S. victory in Iraq.


I am very hopeful and believe it is critical to win.


Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 5:46 PM

Victory or Blow?

Headline: Court blow for Guantánamo prisoners

Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay cannot challenge their imprisonment at the US detention facility, a US appeals court said on Tuesday, delivering a significant legal victory to the White House.

The DC court of appeals ruled 2-1 that recent legislation precluded inmates at the Cuba-based prison from contesting their detention in US civilian courts.

Congress passed the Military Commissions Act last year after the Supreme Court ruled that the original structure of the military commissions created to try prisoners at Guantánamo Bay was unconstitutional.

While the MCA restructured the commissions to comply with US and international law, it also stripped detainees of habeas corpus – the right to appeal against their detention in the US civil court system.

In dismissing the case, Judge Randolph Raymond wrote that the detainees had provided arguments that were "creative but not cogent" and that accepting them "would be to defy the will of Congress".


Victory against terrorists or blow for prisoners. You be the judge.

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 5:36 PM

Sticking It To the Man

I wonder if liberals and Democrats who look for tax deductions while demanding higher taxes are hypocrites.

In any case, CNN Money lists 10 ways you can save some cash come April 15th.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 11:36 AM

February 19, 2007

Let's hear it for fat dudes

Arthur C. Brooks has written a book examining trends in charitable giving. I read a review over the weekend, and today he has a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal called "Worth the Weight."

As we all know, happiness tends to be reflected in the way we treat others. Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, overweight people are more likely to behave charitably than people in the normal BMI range. This is particularly true for men. For example, while 68% of men in the overweight category gave money to charities in 2001, only 62% of men in the normal range gave (although giving falls back considerably when we move into obesity). Overweight men were also the most likely to volunteer their time for various causes and charities.

Not only are they more likely to give, overweight men also give away more dollars each year than men in the normal range do -- in total, as well as to most individual types of causes, from religion to poverty relief. This is not entirely due to the fact that overweight men earn more money (although that is also true). Imagine two men who are identical with respect to income, education, age, race, family status and religious affiliation. The only difference is that the first has a BMI of 23, while the second is a portly but still-respectable 27. On average, the heavier man will give about 5% more money away than the thinner man each year. Your optimal BMI may be between 18.5 and 25 for doctors, but not for fundraisers; in fact, the top average giving level occurs at a BMI of about 28.5. For a six-foot man, this translates into a gentlemanly 211 pounds.


I'm a gentlemanly 6' 2"` 211. Nice to be recognized as an important demographic.

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

I have only read what JK excerpted but this appears to be a strictly correlational relationship. Be careful in ascribing causality. Perhaps the elevated BMI and the giving are CAUSED by some other factor not yet recognized. Perhaps both are caused by being told as a child that you had to finish all your food as there are starving children in Ethiopia.

Posted by: dagny at February 19, 2007 2:16 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I'm 5' 11 1/2" and 235 lbs and I give until it hurts to the St. Vincent dePaul Society every year.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 19, 2007 8:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"As we all know...?"

If "everyone knows" such-and-such then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one." -RAH

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2007 3:29 PM

Sinking Hillary

Somehow I think this idea is going nowhere.

If Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the presidency, some top Democrats would like to see her husband, former President Bill Clinton, appointed to serve out Hillary’s unexpired Senate term.

“As a senator, he’d be a knockout,” said Harold Ickes, who was once a top White House aide to Bill Clinton and now gives behind-the-scenes advice to Hillary. “He knows issues, he loves public policy and he’s a good politician.”

Some Democrats and political analysts say Bill Clinton would thrive in the world’s greatest deliberative body, much like Lyndon Johnson did before he became president.

“President Clinton would excel in the Senate,” said Paul Begala, who helped Bill Clinton get elected and served in the White House as a top aide.

“Why not?” Begala added. “He excelled as attorney general and governor of Arkansas, he excelled as president and he’s been a model of the modern Senate spouse.”

But jk thinks:

If the other choices are Andrew Cuomo and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. let's bring back Bill.

Kind of funny that Mr. Begala forgets the "disbarred" bity.

Posted by: jk at February 19, 2007 11:04 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Disbarring is no big deal. This is from the party that put Congressman "Icebox" Jefferson on the Homeland Security panel.

Posted by: AlexC at February 19, 2007 11:48 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Slightly OT, but here in Sillydelphia, a man under Federal indictment is running for mayor. And the current mayor is his brother, who was/is also under the federal microscope!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 19, 2007 8:20 PM

February 18, 2007

McCain vs Roe vs Wade

Too late.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party's conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.

"I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned," the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.

McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench."


It'd be nice to have Senators who strictly interpret the Constitution too. But we're talking about Campaign Finance Reform. Constitution be damned.

2008 Race Posted by AlexC at 10:21 PM

February 17, 2007

56-34

The Senate failed to pass a non-binding chicken sh*t resolution on not supporting the surge in Iraq.

The Senate gridlocked on the Iraq war in a sharply worded showdown on Saturday as Republicans foiled a Democratic attempt to rebuke President Bush over his deployment of 21,500 additional combat troops.

The vote was 56-34. That was four short of the 60 needed to advance the measure, which is identical to a nonbinding resolution that Democrats pushed through the House on Friday.

"The Senate, on behalf of the American people, must make it clear to the commander in chief that he no longer has a rubber stamp in Iraq," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the final moments before the vote.


Filibustered. Darn. That's really a shame.

In unrelated news, there's a non-binding cease fire in place in Iraq.

A coalition of major terror groups operating in Iraq today announced a symbolic, non-binding ceasefire in response to House Democrats’ passage of a non-binding resolution rejecting President George Bush’s troop surge plan.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Shiite Mahdi army and representatives of a Sunni car-bomb cartel said they would continue to fully fund martyrdom operations, with help from their friends in Iran, Syria and elsewhere.

Iraq Posted by AlexC at 6:36 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Wasn't sure when I would next have a kind word for the GOP Senate Caucus, but "Yay Team!"

Posted by: jk at February 18, 2007 11:01 AM

February 16, 2007

Redrawing the Red-Blue Map

I referenced this in a comment. This is an interesting speculation from Brian Carney in the OpinionJournal Political Diary today:

The prospect of a 2008 presidential contest between New York Senator Hillary Clinton and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani would, if it came to pass, have some interesting implications for national politics next year. In particular, Mr. Giuliani is currently outpolling Mrs. Clinton head-to-head in New York and New Jersey, putting into play two states that have anchored the map of "Blue America" since the 2000 election. Pennsylvania, which voted for the Democrat in the past two election cycles, also polls narrowly in favor of Hizzoner.

On the other side of the ledger, there are reasons to expect Mr. Giuliani to do less well than President Bush did in the Rocky Mountain States and the Southwest. One big wildcard here is California, where no good interparty polling on head-to-head matchups seems to be available yet, but where Mr. Giuliani's reputation for social liberalism -- a reputation he is currently running away from -- could conceivably put that state back into the swing category.

With almost two years to go, much of this could change. But the early polling suggests that on Election Night 2008, the constellation of red and blue states may look quite different than it has in the previous two cycles. This has ramifications for where candidates spend their time and their money in the coming campaign. It also means the big media markets on the coasts will get a lot more candidate attention than they have in recent contests. Expect to hear more soon about the death of the old red state/blue state trope as the battlegrounds shift for '08.

UPDATE: Noemie Emery at The Weekly Standard has a longer article on this topic: The Rise of The Metro Republicans

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:33 PM

The War Vote

I got an email today from my Congressman Jim Gerlach where he writes...

Saying that it undermines the country’s support of troops fighting the War on Terror, Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-06) announced today that he will vote against a controversial resolution introduced by the House Democrat Majority that criticized the President’s call for a surge in U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

“I will vote against this resolution because I reject the status quo,” Rep. Gerlach said. “The Democrats’ resolution offers no new direction on Iraq. Their resolution doesn’t say that 20,000 additional troops are not enough – so we should send more. And it does not call for our troops to come home. Rather, by neither requesting more troops nor calling for our troops to return home, the Democrats are defending the status quo. The status quo is not an option and neither is defeat. While I don’t agree completely with the President’s plan, I believe we must fight harder and smarter because surrender in this case only serves to make our enemies stronger, and endangers the lives of American troops.”


Here's the blow by blow.

I think the Democrats are going to pay for this non-binding resolution... The leftists are going to demand their pound of flesh, and a non-binder isn't enough. The Democrats in the House and Senate were hoping to take a position without having to really have it count.

The Republicans should have amended this thing to make it binding.

Iraq Posted by AlexC at 4:55 PM

Rudy & Global Warming

The other day at Pa Watercooler, blogger Dale Light pointed out that Rudy Giuliani had jumped on to the global warming bandwagon.

Well...

The former New York mayor has been banking a whopping $100,000 per speech to corporations, trade groups, and university audiences, according to his standard appearance contract. The document, a copy of which you'll find below, notes that Giuliani, 62, requires private air transportation to his gigs. But, the contract states, any old plane won't do: "Please note that the private aircraft MUST BE a Gulfstream IV or bigger." Such a jet sells for about $30 million, in case you're wondering.

That's funny. I can't imagine a Gulfstream is all that fuel economical.

I think now, I'm still holding out hope for Sanford and Gingrich.

But jk thinks:

Yeah, I posed something on my disappointment with Hizonner. I strongly disagree that DAWG support is an appropriate litmus test. I'm not abandoning Rudy over this.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2007 3:24 PM
But AlexC thinks:

It's not just DAWG, it's a number of things... good on judges and the war might be all conservatives have left... and at that, the judges are only a promise.

Posted by: AlexC at February 16, 2007 4:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, my main problem with him is gun control.

Good on the war, Brother Alex, is about all I ask for in 2008. I think McCain and Giuliani both bring that, with Romney being unproven but possible.

I would like some economic competence on top of that and here I question McCain who voted against the Bush tax cuts, and Romney who peddled that perverse mandate in the Commonwealth.

I think Giuliani’s moderation on social issues might not grab you, but would work very well in a general. Polls show him ahead of Senator Clinton in New York and New Jersey, OpinionJournal Political Diary claims it could redraw the Red/Blue map.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2007 5:29 PM

Broad Swath?

WaPo staff writer Paul Kane writes a by-lined news piece (I think this is a news article, not an opinion piece, who can tell anymore?) on the Republican Reps likely to support the Democratic non-binding resolution.

Broad Swath of GOP Defecting on Iraq Vote

From the moderate suburbs of Delaware to the rural, conservative valleys of eastern Tennessee, House Republican opponents of President Bush's latest Iraq war plan cut across the GOP's ideological and regional spectrum.

Numbering a dozen or more, these House Republicans have emerged as some of the most prominent opponents of the plan to increase troop presence in Iraq. They admit to being a ragtag band, with no scheduled meetings and little political cohesion.

"We aren't organized at all," said Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), whose district includes suburbs of the Twin Cities. "It's about as diverse a group as is possible."

Borrowing time from House Democrats, these Republicans have gone to the floor to condemn the latest attempt at stabilizing Iraq, which they see as mired in civil war, and have vowed to support a Democratic-driven resolution condemning the buildup.


The article (and the email subhead) then points out that not all of these are from safe seats.

There are 202 GOP seats. A dozen is less than six percent. If a few of those are from safe seats, does this really constitute a broad swath? One hundred percent of the Democrats vote against victory, six percent of Republicans join them. I don't see it as bipartisan.

Senator Lindsey Graham has not been my favorite Senator, but he scored some points today with his assertion that "I will do everything in my power to ensure the House resolution dies an inglorious death in the Senate."

UPDATE: Seventeen "White Flag Republicans" vote for the "rebuke." Hat-tip: Hugh

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 11:47 AM

February 15, 2007

El Camino del Serfdom

Meat, sugar scarce in Venezuela stores

CARACAS, Venezuela - Meat cuts vanished from Venezuelan supermarkets this week, leaving only unsavory bits like chicken feet, while costly artificial sweeteners have increasingly replaced sugar, and many staples sell far above government-fixed prices.

President Hugo Chavez's administration blames the food supply problems on unscrupulous speculators, but industry officials say government price controls that strangle profits are responsible. Authorities on Wednesday raided a warehouse in Caracas and seized seven tons of sugar hoarded by vendors unwilling to market the inventory at the official price.


Commentary is left as an exercise to the reader.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Venezuela Posted by John Kranz at 3:38 PM

Screw TNR!

If I may recount: TNR comes out boldly for the Iraq war, then turns tail and attacks the mission when it gets difficult, piling on to support antiwar candidates and help pull the President’s party out of power.

Now, its editors are crying into their 1945 Château l'effete that It's becoming obvious: No one is going to save Darfur

Precisely because neither of these [UN] options ever seemed likely to work, we have argued over the past year that nato intervention is the best way to end the genocide. We still favor that approach, but we have no illusions that the Bush administration will ever undertake it. Last week, speaking at a panel in Washington, D.C., John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group urged Western governments at least to weigh the possibility of military action against Sudan--but then conceded, "It's a laughable concept as we sit here today." True enough. At this point, we would be happy to see the West take any action that has even the remotest chance of stopping the genocide. Some efforts, such as a no-fly zone over Darfur or a naval blockade of Port Sudan, could, at least in theory, be undertaken unilaterally or by a small group of countries. Other proposals, such as travel bans that target government leaders or sanctions against Sudanese oil, would require broad consent from the international community to be effective.

Unfortunately, none of these measures seem likely to happen any time soon. For one thing, when it comes to Darfur, we have shown time and again that we simply lack the will for substantial steps of any kind. For another, China--a major consumer of Sudanese oil and a longtime supplier of equipment to Khartoum's military--would almost certainly foil efforts to punish Sudan economically.

And so the West either isn't going to act or isn't going to act strongly enough, and the plight of Darfuris will become more dire by the day. Indeed, as recent reports of attacks on aid workers piled up, one humanitarian group, Médecins du Monde, decided to pull out of Darfur. If others follow, millions of displaced persons could soon be without water, food, or medicine.


Afghanistan, a good TNR journalist would say, is reverting to lawless Talibanism, and Iraq is a Quagmire and a mistake of the current administration.

The UN is powerless and disinterested, and TNR wants the administration to organize a coalition of the willing. Let's nuke China and free Tibet while we're over there.

Former TNR Editor Peter Beinart's book is subtitled "Why liberals, and only liberals, can win the war on terror and make America great again." I respect Beinart (and Martin Peretz) but his old magazine disproves his thesis almost once a week.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 3:33 PM

Nationalize The Media!

I guess the fairness doctrine has come to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page.

A guest editorial by Steven Rattner, former NYTimes journalist and current managing principal at Quadrangle Group, LLC, issues the usual dire outlook on Newspaper readership:

readership_graph.gif


Curiously, Rattner never mentions the word "bias." He seems concerned that everybody is just getting too stupid to appreciate all the wonderful journalism that's out there. Check out his list:

We should also bear in mind that for that sliver of America that seeks quality news, it is arguably more available today than ever before: There is this newspaper, now published six days a week; the national edition of the New York Times home-delivered across the country; the Economist (with its U.S. circulation of 600,000); the NewsHour, the BBC and Charlie Rose on public television; and for the true junkies, C-Span. Not to mention the more rarefied Internet precincts.

Holy Cow -- he forgot Al-jazeera!

He doesn't recognize bias, and he's not so hot on Schumpeterian Gales:

But for newspapers, the challenges are mounting, including advertisers fleeing not only to follow lost readers but also because they believe that newer forms of media can be both more cost-effective and just plain more effective. For example, classified ads, which can represent a third of a typical newspaper's revenue, can be delivered online faster (instantaneous), more conveniently (searchable) and cheaper (sometimes free via Craigslist). Not much imagination or boldness is required to predict that classifieds could completely disappear from newspapers.

So, a clever publisher could try to compete, or they could change their content to attract more readership. Or, we could just forget the market and have public financing of journalism:
Not-for-profit status might be one possibility. Instead of having billionaire moguls as proprietors, we could try to turn them into philanthropists who found nonprofit organizations to buy and operate their local papers. At least one such example exists: the St. Petersburg Times, owned by the Poynter Foundation as a result of a bequest by Nelson Poynter.

Purchasing major newspapers would be costly and perhaps impractical, so a hybrid model may make more sense. We could create a pool of money (possibly from a license fee similar to how the BBC is funded). News organizations with an expensive but important project in mind could apply for funding, much the way producers in the public television world have for the last 40 years. Philanthropy could also play a role here, as Joan Kroc did when she left NPR a $200 million kitty.

We've had experience in the past -- the New York City subways come to mind -- with businesses that began as conventional, for-profit corporations, and, for one reason or another, were later rendered unprofitable while still being viewed as essential services. It's time to apply some creative thinking to newspapers and, for that matter, to serious journalism in other media. Then we need to convince Americans that they should pay attention to it -- and pay for it.


This is on the editorial page of the most market-friendly editorial page in the nation. And also, on the page of the one publisher that has successfully brought its product profitably online.

Proves they’re fair.

UPDATE: Free link

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 2:17 PM

How Many Republican Defeatists?

I guess that's the last remaining question in the House. I'm relearning what a friend the "cooling saucer of the Senate" is to a minority party. Even with all our squishes and RINOs, the Senate GOP stalled the defeat resolution under Sen. McConnell’s bold leadership.

But, as they say, you can pass a Ham Sandwich in the house (if the majority party is not hallah or kosher) and we will soon see a bill "supporting the troops" but denigrating their mission and attempting to withhold the tools for victory. How many House GOP members will join the pusillanimity club? The WSJ Ed Page issues a warning: (free link)

All of this is something that House Republicans should keep in mind as they consider whether to follow this retreat. The GOP leadership has been stalwart, even eloquent, this week in opposing the resolution. But some Republicans figure they can use this vote to distance themselves from Mr. Bush and the war while not doing any real harm. They should understand that the Democratic willingness to follow the Murtha "slow-bleed" strategy will depend in part on how many Republicans follow them in this vote. The Democrats are themselves divided on how to proceed, and they want a big GOP vote to give them political cover. However "non-binding," this is a vote that Republican partisans will long remember.

History is likely to remember the roll as well. A newly confirmed commander is about to lead 20,000 American soldiers on a dangerous and difficult mission to secure Baghdad, risking their lives for their country. And the message their elected Representatives will send them off to battle with is a vote declaring their inevitable defeat.


Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM

Cause and Effect

Over at the Friends of Science Website, they have a very good primer on climate change (video).

The video discusses (briefly) the invalidity of the “hockey stick” graph that is shown so much (discussed by two Canadians, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick); research that shows that increased CO2 levels follow, not lead, temperature change; the common fallacies you hear about climate change; the real causes of climate change (which are being studied so their effects can be measured).

It shows you science (i.e., rigorously validated knowledge of the real world) not hype (i.e., in this context, emotional claims driven by fear or power-lust).

Their site has a good summary of the scientific background to climate change. And a good list of technical articles, websites, and books on climate change.

There is more great information on the site…it’s one to be bookmarked and studied, and passed on to friends and family.

This, of course, is an important topic, a major issue of the day -- because, fundamentally, "man-made global warming/climate change" is an attack on reason: man's means of survival. It's the irrationality -- the lack of evidence for their position; the disregard for fact; the disregard for causation; the disregard of reality (by appealing to fear or artificial, ill-informed computer models); the disregard for induction; the appeal to intimidation, fear and threats -- of the climate fear-mongers that needs to be attacked more than any other part of this issue. They are not out for science and reality, they are out for control.


February 14, 2007

Abracadabra

The idea of "man-made global warming" has to be defended scientifically, like any other claim about the physical world. It must meet the canons of induction, for example.

The argument for "man-made global warming" is complex, of course, backed by many sub-arguments, a wide variety of data, a wide variety of research and experiments.

But let's look at one canon of induction they use: Method of Difference. (This is one of Mill's Methods. See A System of Logic by John Stuart Mill for the original presentation of the methods. See also a text book on logic such as Practical Logic (Prentice-Hall, 1950) by Monroe C. Beardsley.) This is a critical component of their argument.

Beardsley outlines the Method of Difference as follows (p. 455):

Given: (1) Two cases, one positive and one negative;
(2) The only difference between the two cases being that a single factor is present in the positive case and absent from the negative case.
Then: That factor is the cause.

So (1) man pumped CO2 into the atmosphere, and the earth warmed; man did not pump CO2 into the atmosphere decades ago, and the earth was cooler. (2) the only difference was the CO2 levels put in the atmosphere by man. Wal-la!! Man is responsible for burning the earth!!

That is fine as is...but it is missing something: context.

As Max Black points out in his Critical Thinking (p. 301, Prentice-Hall, 1952):

Nevertheless, the method, in spite of its great usefulness, is subject to grave dangers. Suppose a person watching a conjuring performance were to argue in this way: 'The magician has just said "Abracadabra," whereupon a live rabbit appeared. A minute ago he had not uttered the magic formula, and there was no rabbit to be seen. Since nothing has changed except that the spell was pronounced, the appearance of the rabbit must have been due to the utterance of the word Abracadabra.' This is a mistaken use of the method of difference. And the mistake is obviously due to the assumption expressed by the words 'nothing else has changed.'

That "nothing else has changed" in terms of climate is false. There are a myriad of factors which have not been researched or evaluated: the sun's irradiation of the earth, cosmic rays, the earth's magnetic field, the affect of clouds.

Then what about another big part of their argument for "man-made global warming:" "Computers say so."

On his website, a scientist by the name of Art De Vany points out, in a post on climate change, that:

The computer models of the climate simulate the weather for centuries. How close do you think they come to the real thing? Not very close at all. It is not possible. Period. None of these models is to be trusted

In the conclusion of my assessment I pointed out the similarities of current climate models to the large scale economic models of the past, the Penn model, the Social Science Research Council model, the Data Resources model and so on. Not one of these models is believed or in operation today in any real sense. The DRI model was a commercial venture by a group of Harvard economists. Initially, it was purchased and its forecasts were subscribed to by a large number of corporations and government agencies.

It did not survive the commercial test of making better forecasts and is gone. So, too will be the fate of the climate models. They reflect primarily the assumptions and the predilections of the model builders (as the Penn model did of Lawrence Klein and his tinkering with the model). They are completely non-scientific enterprises. In the case of the commercial product, they did not survive the market place.

The UN and government sponsored models face no similar market test. They survive on funding by the same groups, the UN and other government agencies, who stand to gain if the dire forecasts are believed by the public. Funds will flow. The media have little interest one way or the other. What ever will sell stories. And scary stories sell.

The models have no credibility -- they do not conform to reality. What's more, statisticians have attacked Michael Mann's methods and results, showing the "hockey stick" is invalid.

The only point of using a computer in physics, is to do complex calculations to see if your theory fits reality. When it fails at that, your theory is invalid.

Reality is the standard of truth, computer outputs are not.

Saying man caused global warming is like saying Abracadabra caused a rabbit to appear. It is merely a conjuring trick.

But jk thinks:

Well done. I think one of my heroes, Karl Popper, has a lot to offer the debate as well. His scientific epistemology is based on dissent and the attempt to disprove.

All are a perfect antidote to the "science is settled" crowd that claims 90% of the scientists believe in it. Science is not a democracy; 90% of scientists beloved that the Sun revolved around a stationary Earth and that a 4 lb. rock fell four times as fast as a one pound rock.

Posted by: jk at February 15, 2007 11:35 AM

Goyim Continue to Run ThreeSources

Attila at Pillage Idiot suggests that "Maybe we DO control the media," looking at this headline in the Washington Times:

"Joo named chairman of Times; McDevitt to become president"

Oy!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:20 PM

Better Living Through Chemistry

Two days on steroids, and the S&P is back over 1450.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:33 PM

"Missing Militant"

As congress debates whether or not to surrender the nascent Iraqi state to Islamist militants, the mere suggestion of a more muscular approach has apparently dislodged one of the largest such cockroaches:

Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fled Iraq for Iran ahead of a security crackdown in Baghdad and the arrival of 21,500 U.S. soldiers sent by President Bush to quell sectarian violence, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

But there's not much time to waste for Democrats, for whom any discernable success of the muscular approach would be anathema:

The long-awaited floor debate on Iraq is the first since Democrats took control of Congress in the November midterm elections. It also comes as the war approaches the four-year mark with more than 3,100 U.S. troops dead.

Democrats made clear the nonbinding resolution was the beginning of a longer campaign to bring the Iraq war to an end.

"A vote of disapproval will set the stage for additional Iraq legislation, which will be coming to the House floor," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

UPDATE: Terri at Ithinkthereforeierr has more reports of Islamist's bad news.

Iraq Posted by JohnGalt at 2:36 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I hope Congress can pass some defeatist resolutions before Bush wins the war -- boy wouldn't that be embarrassing!

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2007 3:56 PM

Happy Valentine's Day

Perry at Eidelblog has a nice riff on why we buy $100 roses.

Even outside of sitcom absurdity, we guys will spend much more for the most prized flowers on Valentine's Day than we would any other day of the year. Those who understand free market processes know there's nothing wrong with that. As I've explained previously, when prices are left free to adjust, then markets will eventually clear, given time. It's dependent on the quality of participants' information, of course, but as the quality approaches perfection, then markets will clear perfectly. In reality, information is not perfect, and because information has a cost, both buyers and sellers will settle on prices where, they judge, the cost of improving information won't exceed the benefit. A common example in the real world is advertising something for sale in additional venues, which certainly improves information for potential buyers, but in the end it may not yield an increased profit as great as the cost of the additional advertising.

Explain that to your date over a nice dinner tonight and feel the romance. Ultimately, market flaws tend to be self correcting, and command-and-control flaws tend to be self perpetuating.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:53 PM

February 13, 2007

Hayek Lives

The good folks in Niger may soon have exports beside yellowcake Uranium, if they will continue to empower their farmers to practice good stewardship of the land. Virginia Postrel writes about a NYTimes article. Postrel says "Given the inaccurate photo caption about planting trees, I expected to read about a foreign-aid program that provided seedlings. Instead, it turns out that the farmers figured out what to do the old-fashioned way--by using their powers of observation and what they had on hand."

I think, however, that she may have "buried the lede" a bit:

Another change was the way trees were regarded by law. From colonial times, all trees in Niger had been regarded as the property of the state, which gave farmers little incentive to protect them. Trees were chopped for firewood or construction without regard to the environmental costs. Government foresters were supposed to make sure the trees were properly managed, but there were not enough of them to police a country nearly twice the size of Texas.
But over time, farmers began to regard the trees in their fields as their property, and in recent years the government has recognized the benefits of that outlook by allowing individuals to own trees. Farmers make money from the trees by selling branches, pods, fruit and bark. Because those sales are more lucrative over time than simply chopping down the tree for firewood, the farmers preserve them.

I'm sorry, Bono, this is what Africa needs more than Billandmelinda Gates' money. [Grammar note: Gates', like Moses' and Jesus', does not require an s after the apostrophe for the singular possessive. I forget whom I stole that from, but it's official ThreeSources Style now.]

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 6:46 PM

A Crush

When a candidate can tell you something you don't want to hear, it could be good or bad.

Rudy gives more fealty to the DAWG than I'd like, But I enjoy hearing the man speak.

It's a good test case for the kind of crap we'd have to endure during a Giuliani campaign/administration. I can take it.

UPDATE: The commenters on Pajamas Media are not so forgiving as I. This could be an unfortunate litmus test in 2008.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 6:14 PM

Religion vs. Self-Interest

How long will the President's opponents deny the Laffer Curve (religion) at the expense of having more money to spend on their programs and power aggrandizement (self-interest)?

Larry Kudlow passes along some information from Michael Darda that Larry calls "A Revenue Gusher."

Treasury data for January released yesterday afternoon showed that tax receipts continue to roll in at a rapid rate, which has reduced the fiscal deficit to $191.9 billion or 1.4% of GDP, well below the 2.3% average since 1970. At the current pace, the budget could move back into balance as early as May 2008.

One has to suspect that the economically literate members of the Congressional Democrats (Rep. Frank and a few buddies) may start to soft-peddle rolling back the Bush tax-cuts. Look for flowery oratory but, I hope, no serious proposals to kill the golden goose while they have a lease on its output.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 5:15 PM

Good News From Colorado

Good news from Colorado has been fairly scant of late for a Republican voter. We got our asses kicked in 2004 and 2006, and the legislation is changing. But John Fund, in OpinionJournal's Political Diary, has some good news about our new Democratic Governor, Bill Ritter:

"The unions just leaned on him too much and the business community was for once united in opposition," is how Jon Caldera of Colorado's Independence Institute explains the startling decision of Democratic Governor Bill Ritter to veto a bill that would have made it easier to force Colorado workers to pay union fees.

The news is not only a victory for freedom of association and freedom of speech, but also shows the limits of liberalism even in a Rocky Mountain state that has recently moved from bipartisan "purple" to Democratic "blue."

When the Democratic state legislature steamrollered the bill through, business leaders protested that it would repeal a Colorado law requiring that, once a company's employees approve a union, they have a second, secret-ballot vote on how dues will be assessed, with a 75% supermajority required for approval. Governor Ritter said he believed the bill would have had a negative effect on the state's business climate and was viewed as unfair by many of the nine-tenths of the state's workers who don't belong to a union.

The Ritter veto doesn't augur well for the chances of federal legislation being pushed by Democrats in Congress that would repeal the tradition of holding secret-ballot elections for union representation in favor of a "card check" system in which union leaders would simply collect cards signed by members. Once 50%-plus-one of workers at a company had turned in their cards, the union would be automatically certified.

"Governor Ritter heard the debate in Colorado and decided that the union agenda this time was just too much for him to embrace," says Mr. Caldera. "It shows the power that grass-roots activism can have even when liberals control the policy process."


Well done, Governor Ritter. I don't want to fawn, but that is a profile in courage action on his part, bucking Big Labor.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:55 PM

It's Like Blogging on Steroids!

What is it? Well, blogging on steroids.

I am getting a five-day IV dose. I suppose if I win a blogging award, you'll have to put an asterisk by my name.

Last time I did this (~three years ago) they made me talkative -- will this round make me blogative? Sadly, the only place they could start an IV this morning -- in a grueling jackbaueurian torture session -- was in my main typing wrist. I dunno, maybe I'll podcast.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:40 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Ian thinks:

Unless you were clinically dead from 8:59 to 9:03, it was NOT Jack-Bauerian.

Still, I sympathize.

Posted by: Ian at February 13, 2007 4:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought it unrealistic that Morris would fold under torture, having complete cognizance of the fruits of his coerced labors.

Yet, about 20 minutes into my escapade, I offered to program any devices she had, translate the owner's manual into Arabic, and port it to Linux.

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2007 5:19 PM

February 12, 2007

Socialist Paradises

Really. I had it so wrong. AlexC emails a link to Cuba: making poverty history that celebrates the economic achievements as well as the unparalleled freedom, human rights and self-direction available the island nation.

The only thing resembling a gulag in Cuba is in the US’s illegally-held enclave at Guantanamo Bay where the Bush administration has built its notorious concentration camp.

Contrary to the impression given by the Western media, Cuba does have competitive elections. Much is made of the fact that there is only one party, the Cuban Communist Party (PCC). The PCC does not, in fact, endorse candidates in elections. While party members can, and do, run in elections, so can non-members. In any given electorate there may be one, or more than one, PCC member standing or there may be only non-members as candidates.


I was packing my bags to emmigrate, but then I saw this:


What a dupe I have been.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:50 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

You are right. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea IS a paradise compared to the "hell" of "America." It must be the Lost Horizon.

And the word "obesity" isn't even in the North Korean vocabulary!

(My favorite parts of the video were the Patton quote and the goose-stepping Korean school girls.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 13, 2007 3:07 PM

jk Goes Green

I must buy this car. The fate of the planet depends on it.

toyota_fths_rect.jpg


Well Toyota plans to sell the FT-HS somewhere in the mid 30k range which, if correct, has me sold as I type this down. The goal of the rear wheel drive(thank god!) hybrid powertrain is to produce 400 horsepower and achieve 0-60 mph in around 4 seconds. This is accomplished with by combining a 3.5-liter V6 and an electric motor in a similar manner to the Lexus GS450h.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

or the Tesla.... but at 90K/per... that's still a little steep.

But maybe it'll be my first convertable.... in 4Q 2008

Posted by: AlexC at February 12, 2007 1:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I thought "hybrid technology" was supposed to lead to economy... why are there concept vehicles using it to boost power to the wheels but none that push fuel economy above 50-ish mpg? That's the same level the good ol' ultra econoboxes reached, and with mere gasoline engines. Answer: Gasoline (and diesel and LPG and CNG) are fuels; electricity (and hydrogen and ethanol) are energy storage systems.

I wonder if the federal hybrid subsidy will apply to this baby too!

Posted by: johngalt at February 12, 2007 3:01 PM
But jk thinks:

I finally take a brave stand to save the planet and you people question my motives? I'm going green, though I will probably opt for a metallic blue. That would absorb radiation and further stop global warming. I'm just a citizen of the world...

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2007 4:32 PM

Let It Snow

The Philadelphia area (in fact the whole northeast) is bracing for it's first big snowfall of the year. While not the scale of our square-state friends, it's still a big deal for the news.

Lately we've been upgraded from "a lot of snow" to a mess.

As of this morning, the weather service saw this set of scenarios for Philadelphia:

Tonight: A “slight chance” of snow.
Tomorrow: Snow in the afternoon, accumulating an inch or so.
Tomorrow night: Snow gives over to sleet and freezing rain.
Wednesday morning: Freezing rain, then rain.
Wednesday afternoon: Chance of snow.

The suburbs, South Jersey and Delaware are likely to suffer a similar fate.

Heavy snow, however, could still sock much of the rest of Pennsylvania. Areas west of a line roughly from Allentown to Lancaster are under a "Winter Storm Watch," with snow possible from Tuesday through Wednesday evening.


Is that a relief? I'm flying on Wednesday morning.
"From a forecaster's perspective, it's frustrating," Mike Gorse, a Weather Service meteorologist in Mount Holly, said yesterday. "The computer models just aren't agreeing."

In related news, the computers all agree, that anthropogenic climate change will destroy the earth, unless we stop the engines of progress.


WSJ Ed Page on "The Carbon Prize"

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page joins me in supporting Sir Richard Branson's $25 million prize for finding an engineering solution to atmospheric carbon dioxide instead of a return to caves.

True, the judges for Mr. Branson's challenge hail from the Apocalypse Now crowd; Al Gore joined Sir Richard for Friday's announcement. But the billionaire Briton is plunking down his own money for the prize, rather than asking middle-class taxpayers to pony up, à la the Kyoto Protocol and other top-down schemes favored by environmentalists and European politicians.

Who knows whether it will prove possible to reduce existing stocks of CO2 from the atmosphere. We're pretty sure, though, that technology and innovation are far more likely to make it happen than Kyoto-style restrictions on emissions. Yes, that means that Mr. Branson and other entrepreneurs may make a profit along the way. Yet if the climate-change activists are truly concerned with saving the Earth -- rather than with punishing "bad" industries like aviation, one source of Mr. Branson's fortune -- then surely they won't object.

As for claims that "we cannot afford to wait for futuristic solutions which may never materialize," as Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper told Britain's Press Association, there's the obvious irony that the alleged ravages of climate change are themselves decades off. Finding new ways of dealing with these dangers, if they ever do materialize, seems far more sensible than crippling the world economy now. As environmentalists like to say, it's the "sustainable approach."

But Terri thinks:

Tim Blair wins this.
http://timblair.net/ee/index.php/weblog/prize_clutched/

He's suggested getting rid of all automatic cars. This would give us annual carbon reduction in the US of 988,750,000 metric tons.
(I didn't double check his math)

Posted by: Terri at February 12, 2007 6:08 PM
But jk thinks:

I dunno. I'm a fan of Tim Blair but he is lining up with the forces of darkness and anti-modernity here.

All kinds of stuff we could ban -- the acolytes of VP Gore would love to own the list. Branson has proffered some heterodoxy with a call to remove carbon without affecting behavior or calling for sacrifices. As people choose to pay more money in cost and maintenance for automatic transmissions, banning would be out of bounds.

Thanks for playing, Mr. Blair. Next!

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2007 8:35 PM

February 11, 2007

Two Americas, Two McCains

The WaPo takes a whack at Senator McCain today in a prominent, bylined story: McCain Taps Cash He Sought To Limit.

John Solomon reports on the Senator's decision to eschew public financing limits, then delivers a sequence of McCain the reformer vs. McCain the candidate comparisons.

McCain the reformer relentlessly argued that six- and seven-figure "soft money" checks that corporations, wealthy individuals and unions were giving to political parties to influence elections were corrupting American politics. "The voices of average Americans have been drowned out by the deafening racket of campaign cash," he warned just a few years ago.

McCain the candidate has enlisted some of the same GOP fundraising giants who created and flourished in the soft-money system, including Bush's fundraising "Pioneers" and "Rangers," who earned their designations by raising at least $100,000 or $200,000 for his campaigns.


Ouch. But it is not undeserved. It makes him look hypocritical to those who don't know him, and reminds those of us who do that his signature issue was to restrict free speech.

The buzz this weekend is all about HIzzoner the Mayor of America. I think I may be ready for the Rudy bandwagon. Good on the war, good on economics. He might be able to sell this "I am moderate on social issues but will pick good SCOTUS justices" to the conservative side of the party.

I am fearful of what the Clinton opposition machine will turn up on the not always cautious or parsimonious pol, but this weekend finds me in the Rudy camp. He's the hawkish-libertarian's candidate.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

JK, i'm in the same boat. I'm leaning towards Rudy.

I can forgive his social issues, if we get good judges.


McCain I can't trust. Maybe as Giuliani's SecDef....

Posted by: AlexC at February 11, 2007 2:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I like the SecDef plan.

You are the ThreeSources social conservative (not the most hotly contested appointment), AC. If you're willing to play...

It looks like The Weekly Standard folks are giving him a serious opportunity, though the National Review staff, especially the online people is pretty staunchly opposed.

JG had made a pretty good point that a year before the primaries is a pretty good time to be splintered. But we do not have a deep bench this year, and I hate to see any credible candidate litmus-tested out.

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2007 5:24 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Darn! I thought I was the ThreeSources social conservative. I should have contested the appointment.

Posted by: sugarchuck at February 11, 2007 8:04 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

It seems to me that we never really get what we read on the package label. I think that the last honest sale we got was Regan (please come back and bring the Duke with you). Rudy, however, is so damn arrogant he would probably do exactly what he said. Surviving a bush with death tends to make you a bit more immune to the vicissitudes of life. Really, I like that in a leader. I would like it even more if he got elected and bitch-slapped Nancy P.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 12, 2007 10:26 AM
But jk thinks:

RE: ThreeSources Social Conservative.

Cage match? The two of you enter an Octagonal ring with a copy of Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France" and Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind." Last guy standing takes the crown.

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2007 10:31 AM

February 10, 2007

A Global Warming Plan jk Can DIg

If they treated it like this, I'd be in.

LONDON, Feb. 9 -- British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, with former vice president Al Gore at his side, offered a $25 million prize Friday to anyone who can come up with a way to blunt global climate change by removing at least a billion tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Earth's atmosphere.

Insty linked to this the other day and compared it favorably to what he called "hair-shirt environmentalism."

A solution like this would contribute to, rather than subtract from, economic growth. It could be used to create empirical climate studies to determine the extent of DAWG's existence and severity. I think it could actually inject some science into the debate.

In less positive news, a friend of the blog emails an unfortunately accurate assessment of VP Gore's upcoming Carbon summit:

I've been down with the flu, so you've probably seen this by now but I just caught it. It looks like Gore will assemble the worlds most equallest pigs ever in one of humanities greatest all time carbon producing bashes. I guess the only way to keep things carbon neutral is to stop all the rest of us little equallest pigs from driving the vehicles of our choice, etc.

That's the usual solution offered. Sir Branson's is new and market-friendly.


The First!

Glenn Reynolds gets off a good one.- His post links to an LATimes piece on how TV morning news shows are losing their coveted female 25-35 demographic. The mom in the piece compares these shows to reading People Magazine at the dentist office. Glenn sez:

Those shows' producers may be the first ever to go broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Also, the tv news folks have been going beyond their usual negativity and sensationalism by playing up the bad news even more to make Bush look bad, but judging from this story by doing that they're also chasing away their audience, which now finds their programs too depressing. Oops.

The market is self correcting. When it appears, as in network news, that a problem is intractable, time and competition should iron it out.

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

February 9, 2007

And How Are Collections Going?

Perry at Eidelblog thinks that government may not be cautious with taxpayer money. Government's motto: "When it's not your money, why try to be careful?"

In the neighborhood President Bush visited right after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. government gave $84.5 million to more than 10,000 households. But Census figures show fewer than 8,000 homes existed there at the time.

They’re going to try and get $300 million back. Yeah, that's gonna work.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:22 PM

Geno's Still on Meat Hook

Philly.com

The highly charged dispute over the speak-English sign at Geno's Steaks is about to heat up.

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations notified Geno's owner Joey Vento this week that it had found probable cause that his sign urging patrons to order in English is discriminatory. The next step is to schedule a hearing to settle the dispute or to escalate the charges against the owner of the South Philadelphia sandwich stand.

Vento, who argues that the sign expresses opinions protected by the First Amendment, has enlisted the support of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public-interest law firm in Atlanta that last year won a settlement for an Ohio bar owner who faced similar charges.

"I'm shocked the city is pursuing this," said Albert G. Weiss, Vento's attorney in Philadelphia. "You'd think they have more important things to deal with."


Heaven forbid Joey Vento cater to his choice of customers.

I suppose that soon the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" signs will be coming down. They're discriminatory to leg amputees.

Shoe stores, you've officially been warned.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Heaven forbid Joey Vento cater to his choice of customers.

I suppose that soon the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" signs will be coming down. They're discriminatory to leg amputees.

Shoe stores, you've officially been warned.


LOL,..Yup Alex. Vento is violating people's rights, but Mayor John and his "Department of Street" are killing what little life still exists in this town!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 9, 2007 9:11 PM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Has anybody checked if this request has driven business over to Pat's Steaks?

John F. Kerry (did you know he was in Vietnam?) put the Swiss Cheesesteak on the map at Pat's.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 10, 2007 3:34 PM

Deniers

One of the Boston Globe's crazed liberal columnists.

By every measure, the U N 's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change raises the level of alarm. The fact of global warming is "unequivocal." The certainty of the human role is now somewhere over 90 percent. Which is about as certain as scientists ever get.

I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.


I thought it was called climate change. Who's denying what?

But Globalwarming Awareness2007 thinks:

Will you help support global warming issues?
We have a small logo that you can use to show your support on your blog or myspace!

http://www.globalwarming.org.in

Thanks!

Scott
Spread the word - www.GlobalWarming.org.in

Posted by: Globalwarming Awareness2007 at February 9, 2007 7:47 PM
But jk thinks:

When climate change is detected in hell, Scott. But thanks for trying!

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2007 1:11 PM

February 8, 2007

Smart Piece on Global Warming

Russell Roberts has a superb and smart column on global warming posted at Cafe Hayek.

He recognizes the right-to-left movement through DAWG:

It's one thing to convince people that the earth is getting warmer. It's another thing to convince people that human actions are the cause of global warming. But it's a much harder thing still to convince people that the results of global warming will be something other than a more pleasant winter in Minnesota and a less pleasant summer in Arizona. You've got to convince people that we're making the earth less hospitable for human and other life forms. We all know that the earth goes through big climate swings. So how likely is it that we're actually going to destroy the earth? On top of all that, you've got to convince people we can actually do something about the problem. As Robert Samuelson points out, there's not that much we can do.

He cites the politicalization as a reason that not much will happen:
But the biggest reason nothing is going to happen is that Al Gore Oscar nomination. Imagine ten years from now that the United States starts getting more protectionist. We start limiting imports and refusing to honor trade agreements. In response, George W. Bush does a brilliant documentary on the virtues of free trade. I don't care how brilliant and accurate and persuasive the documentary turns out. At least 40% of the American people (and maybe it will be a lot more than 40%) will decide that because it comes from George Bush, the whole thing must be garbage with a hidden political agenda. Well about 40% of the American people (and maybe a lot more than 40%) think that Al Gore has a political agenda and can't be trusted.

Then a risk/reward ratio for joining the consensus:
A final thought: the experts on global warming bear little cost for making overly pessimistic predictions about the world in 2100. So they have an incentive to make overly pessimistic predictions.

True, their reputations will be harmed. But right now they are all in the same boat. You don't look foolish predicting that Florida is going to disappear if almost everyone else with glowing credentials makes the same argument. So I'm a little skeptical of their pessimism given that the costs of pessimism is low and benefits in the form of being on the good side of the funding angels is high.


Hat-tip: Everyday Economist


Damned PBS

I don't know if anybody caught the "Supreme Court" documentary on PBS. They ran two hours last week and two hours this week. It was -- so typically of public broadcast fare-- very well done, entertaining, informative. And, of course, maddeningly biased!

The program was truly fascinating, but as they got to the 20th Century, it became more apparent that the entire team of layers, law professors, journalists and clerks that they had to provide color and opinion were all supportive of liberal judicial activism. Their definition of "strict constructionist" was one who "wants to follow the Constitution, but would allow the Police to do anything."

The Warren Court is held up as the gold standard, forcing liberties that a recalcitrant congress and executive branch would not provide. There's some truth in that, and I still celebrate Brown v Board and, on a very good day, even Miranda v Arizona. But they belittle Frankfurter for supporting a stricter reading of the text and they celebrate Douglas's famous "Emanations and penumbra" majority in Griswold v Connecticut.

After each segment, we hear from some liberal law professor or journalist for a closing anecdote or opinion. The main text of the documentary was well balanced, yet they could not find one conservative or constructionist scholar to balance the show. That made it very representative of PBS and NPR: quality programming with a solid attempt at comprehensive coverage, but with a flaw of bias.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:46 PM

February 7, 2007

Africa's Very Own Nixon

Greg Mankiw (not gonna use the P word, don't worry) looks at hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. Everybody’s favorite little tin pot dictator turns to out 37th President for a monetary solution.

Mr. Mugabe, who blames a Western plot against him for Zimbabwe’s problems, has rejected all calls for economic reform....The central bank’s latest response to these problems, announced this week, was to declare inflation illegal. From March 1 to June 30, anyone who raises prices or wages will be arrested and punished. Only a “firm social contract” to end corruption and restructure the economy will bring an end to the crisis, said the reserve bank governor, Gideon Gono.

One more reminder that people are poor because they have bad government.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I'm pretty sure I read this in Atlas Shrugged ... stop sliding back, just stand still. All wages and prices frozen. My God.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 7, 2007 9:51 PM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Actually, the first president since FDR who did not use wage or price controls was Carter (maybe Ford?). Anyway, the crowd is a lot bigger than just Nixon.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 8, 2007 1:03 AM
But jk thinks:

But we were on Bretton Woods before Nixon. Say what you will about the gold standard (I'm agin' it) it does control inflation.

Nixon let the toothpaste out of the tube by floating the currency but wage/price controls were the wrong fix for inflation.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2007 10:36 AM

jk agrees with Hugh

It happens. We have a common, internecine, enemy. Both Hugh Hewitt and I have read NRO Corner's disparagement of Mayor Giuliani with a mixture of bemusement and fear.

Hugh invites Human Events' Terry Jeffrey onto his program to pin him down. You don't like Hizzoner Rudy, whom would you support? Jeffrey waffles a little and suggests Rep. Tom Tancredo. I have sworn off Tancredo jokes, for the time being, but must agree with Hugh that Rep. Tancredo is not a serious candidate, and that the splintering of the Right this soon is not a good sign.

This answer is an ominous one for the GOP. Tancredo is not a serious candidate, but Jeffrey is a serious opinion-leader on the right. Jeffrey's willingness to publicly bless a protest candidate signals that many on the right would rather fight doomed battles than get to the business of electing a nominee who can be elected president. The irony is that in our conversation Jeffrey points to the importance of the Supreme Court's likely vacancies in his critique of Rudy, but then in effect endorses the sort of fecklessness in politics that almost guarantees that Hillary gets the SCOTUS appointments from January, 2009 to October, 2012.

Mr. Hewitt and I disagree on many things but I think we are united as pragmatists. I'll be giving The Mayor of America a good long look, myself. He is absolute in his support of the war, and his squishier social views may attract moderates. I wish he were more solid on the Second Amendment but it is hardly the issue of our time.

UPDATE Commenter "Enlightenment" in not a big fan of the mayor and left a long comment questioning the conventional storyline of 9/11. I cut it from the comments to save space, but you can click "Continue reading" for the umm, errr, enlightenment.

Ah, Rudy Giuliani. Here's a great campaign slogan for him: "Giuliani for president, because on 9/11 I put on a N.Y. Fire Dept. baseball cap and walked around". Speaking of 9/11...

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch, with someone who was there when he was attempting to fly a small airplane saying that Hanjour was so clumsy that he was unsure if he had driven a car before. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports after Mohammed Atta supposedly leaves two rental cars at two impossibly far-removed locations. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name ("Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham"), more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that doesn't look like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces most no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 6:11 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

The Second Amendment is as close as I come to being a one-issue voter, at least on domestic policy. I still prefer Rudy to McCain.

I'm not sure I agree though that "the splintering of the Right this soon is not a good sign." Splintering is a natural part of competition, and is to be welcomed. And the earlier the better. What you should worry about is splintering after a consensus has already been built.

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2007 3:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't question its importance, I'm just a bit cocky with recent victories. The gun control lobby seems to be in remission of late. Democrats have not found it a winning issue, and there will be some serious trepidation taking peoples' guns in perilous times.

A squish on guns might be tolerable in '08. Especially if the other choices are "No First Amendment" McCain and "Massachusetts Health Care for All!" Romney.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2007 5:23 PM

Funding Health Care

Hope springs eternal. Get out your Pollyanna hats. I think we may be on the way to an improvement in health care finance.

I just finished Arnold Kling's "Crisis of Abundance" last weekend and recommend it highly. It is a quick read that asks all the right questions and proposes a few good answers. It's also small and cheap to mail -- holler if you’d like to borrow it (Alan Reynolds’s $55 masterpiece is up for grabs as well, as is PJ O'Rourke's On On The Wealth of Nations).

Kling sets up the triumvirate of spending, access to care, and insulation from price and insinuates that we can have any two if we'll give up on the third. Kling suggests his preference is removing the insulation from price that most of us have with the current plan. Kling trusts markets.

Somebody way smarter than me pointed out that the areas of health care showing improvement in value are those with market choice and competition. Laser eye surgery is generally not covered by insurance plans and prices have been dropping and now include innovations like 20/20- warranties. Maternity care is less price-sensitive but competition for customers has introduced many improvements and innovations. The newest hospital in Boulder has delivery as a specialty and is known as "The Marriot" because of its upscale decor.

Today, Holman Jenkins takes to the WSJ Ed Page to say that the biggest secret in health care is no secret. Changing the tax code is the key to fixing problems in access and affordability.

Bill Clinton himself said: "There has to be some sort of personal responsibility in this health-care system we set up."

Let the current President Bush give voice to the same analysis, however, and it must be some kind of supply-side hokum.

To rehearse: The tax code is the original hectoring mommy behind our health-care neuroses. It gives the biggest subsidy to those who need it least. It pays the affluent to buy more medical care than they would if they were spending their own money. It prompts them to launder our health spending through an insurance bureaucracy, creating endless paperwork. It prices millions of less-favored taxpayers out of the market for health insurance. It fosters a misconception that health care is free even as workers are perplexed over the failure of their wages to rise.


By forcing the health care issue, our new Democratic Overlords in the 110th Congress will force debate. And the Republicans --- might, possibly -- take a free market stance. President Bush started the discussion in his State of the Union address, and there is no shortage of wonkery out there, like Kling's book, that could be used to stake out a free market position.

Unlike many free market positions, this one is pretty easily defended. GOP candidates could appeal to principle and could frame it to poll well. Even if some compassionate conservative sausage comes out of the 110th, it might have seeds of better incentives sown in it.

But jk thinks:

ThreeSources snobs! I've had a couple emails belittling me for my assertion that Marriot == upscale decor. Holy cow, friends, we're talking about hospitals.

I guess all the other ThreeSources stay at the Ritz all the time. This old road musician is still pretty pleased with himself when he scores a room in a Marriot. When I'm not staying over with John Edwards, that is.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2007 6:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think the disconnect here is that you're thinking of the Marriott, while well-heeled ThreeSourcers think you mean Marriot.

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2007 3:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Watch it buddy, that unpaid and unpleasant "ThreeSources Editor" position remains vacant...

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2007 5:13 PM

Banning iPods

First they came for your cigarettes... then they came for your trans-fat.

Now they're coming for your iPod.

But jk thinks:

From my cold, dead hands city fathers!

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2007 4:05 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

What about bluetooth ear pieces ... or Secret Service Ear pieces. And finally, hearing aids. I cannot wait to see that.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 7, 2007 9:56 PM

Another Liberal Idea

that could lead to famine.

Tens of thousands of people have marched through Mexico City in a protest against the rising price of tortillas.

The price of the flat corn bread, the main source of calories for many poor Mexicans, recently rose by over 400%.

President Felipe Calderon has said the government will clamp down on hoarding and speculation to ease the problem.

But some blame the rise on demand for corn to make environmentally-friendly biofuels in the United States.


You're kidding overhyped subsidized demand for a dubious product raising it's demand? You learn something new everyday.

But johngalt thinks:

And what does Josh say about the reduction in available labor for auto mechanics, welders, electricians, and brain surgeons when all those grown up farm kids head back to Metropolis to grow a crop for which the demand is more genetically altered than the seed corn is? Or the price of other crops that are crowded out by government corn? Or the spike in demand for scarce irrigation water that is already in a semi-natural balance? Or...?

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2007 2:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'd also like to call attention to a comment by El-Visitador (that languished in the junk comments bin for far too long due to more than one embedded hyperlink): *** CORRECTION *** No corn mandate *** (sixth comment)

In addition to the correction of his previous assertion he adds, "Ethanol could be made in the U.S. from a cheaper, more efficient per acre source: sugarcane. But sugarcane is heavily dutied and protected (which is why sugar is 4 times costlier in the U.S. than in most places around the world), whereas corn is subsidized. This is why most ethanol is currently made from corn."

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2007 3:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Good point -- I don't want to take a great blogger (and valued commenter) out of the 'sphere. I think he might lease some of that permafrost tundra prime farmland to ADM or Cargill, and they could turn it for him.

The point is that subsidies interfere with but do not invalidate the market. I don't want to encourage ethanol subsidies, but rising corn prices is a bogus argument, when there are a million good arguments.

Mexico, as was noted in the same discussion, has import quotas on US grain and now flirts with price controls. The enemy of my enemy may or may not be my friend, but to argue against ethanol subsidies because of tortillas is the wrong reason.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2007 4:58 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hmmm ... pound your chevy's into plowshares ... Forget corn, sugar-beet is the wave of the future boy! And yes, the Mrs would castrate me should I even mention the IDEA of moving back to the wilderness where you live in the 'town' if you can see your neighbor's house. Even if it is 10 miles away.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 7, 2007 10:01 PM
But El-Visitador thinks:

"subsidies interfere with but do not invalidate the market. I don't want to encourage ethanol subsidies, but rising corn prices is a bogus argument, when there are a million good arguments."

Agreed 100% with JK.

But I just enjoy pointing out to the do-gooders that their ethanol mandate is sending hungy kids to bed in thirld-world countries.

Posted by: El-Visitador at February 8, 2007 11:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, that is too good to leave on the table, isn't it?

Posted by: jk at February 9, 2007 10:54 AM

February 6, 2007

Happy Birthday

reagan_ronald.jpg


Hat-top: Club for Growth

Posted by John Kranz at 6:31 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Amen. Maybe one day the Republicans will get around to finishing the revolution he started.

Right after Hillary's first term, that is.

Posted by: AlexC at February 7, 2007 12:04 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Alex ... what you just said ... I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 7, 2007 10:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Because she might lose in 2012? AlexC doesn't know for sure, that's six years away.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2007 10:50 AM

When Is Pgovian Not Pigovian?

The Pigovians claimed Milton Friedman, and now Dr. Mankiw is trying to claim the President. In George Bush is almost a Pigovian, Mankiw states that a portion of new Bush policy might get him a temporary membership in the club.

In a surprise that could foreshadow how Mr. Bush might reach out to Democrats -- and disappoint conservatives -- for the rest of his term, the centerpiece of the traffic plan involves an initiative that some critics say amounts to a tax, a plan depicted by administration officials as "congestion pricing." The administration will award $130 million in grants starting this spring to help cities and states build electronic toll systems that would charge drivers fees for traveling in and out of big cities during peak traffic times.

Time out! I don't see usage fees as Pigovian. Greens' fees at the city golf course are not a Pigovian tax to prevent excessive golfing, they are a mechanism to allocate, fairly, the costs of a service to those who use it.

I came out for HOT lanes in 2003. Roads are provided by government, and any fair way to allocate their cost to usage is not punitive.

Unlike the Augusta Golf Club, you have to be careful what you say or you will be accepted as a full member in The Pigou Club. Groucho Marx would be appalled.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM

February 5, 2007

The Debate Is Over

So Samizdata suggests let the trials begin

Following enlightened historical precedence (see Galileo), I humbly suggest that the UN create an office to be known as the Permanent Tribunal of Universal Inquiry to investigate into the views of scientists on climate change. Those who publicly repent from their errors would be given leniency, but those who maintain their heretical positions should be handed over to civil authorities for proper punishment. In times past the penalty for the crime of heresy was burning at the stake but, regretfully, this would release too many greenhouse gases, so another form of punishment must be found.

First on trial: The heretics at the Wall Street Journal, who claim that the IPCC is itself back-pedaling on predictions.
Take rising sea levels. In its 2001 report, the U.N.'s best high-end estimate of the rise in sea levels by 2100 was three feet. Lord Monckton notes that the upcoming report's high-end best estimate is 17 inches, or half the previous prediction. Similarly, the new report shows that the 2001 assessment had overestimated the human influence on climate change since the Industrial Revolution by at least one-third.

ThreeSources will no doubt be made an example of. In my humble defense, I can only say "Eppur si muove."


Another Movie You Won't See

Ian at Benevolent Misanthropy brings bad news. Joss Whedon and Silver pictures have split up on the "Wonder Woman" project.

It had been a long time since I heard anything on this project and I assumed no news was bad news. In my mind this picture still exists, Charisma Carpenter has the lead, Frank Vignola does the soundtrack, and it won several Oscars...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:46 PM

Pronunciation Key

The Junior Senator from New York has been recognized by the good folks at Merriam-Webster. But listen carefully to the pronunciation of her name. Listen

Hat-tip: Club for Growth

Posted by John Kranz at 3:22 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Hehehehe,....
Gotta add that to my Hillary as President post!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 5, 2007 9:33 PM

Peretz and Soros

There remain reasonable people who support the Democratic Party. Sometimes I am not sure how, but they are out there.

Martin Peretz issues a smackdown of lefty financier George Soros in TNR: How George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, forgot who Hitler was. In Davos, George Soros called for "de-Nazification" of the United States. Peretz takes umbrage and wonders why other do not.

The analogy between Bush's America and Hitler's Germany is not fleshed out, and one is left wondering how far he would take it. Is Bush like Hitler? If it is "de-Nazification" that we need, then in some sense Bush must be like Hitler. Was the invasion of Iraq like the invasion of Poland? Perhaps. The more one lingers over Soros's word, the more one's eyes pop from one's head. In the old days, the Amerika view of America was propagated by angry kids on their painful way to adulthood; now, it is propagated by the Maecenas of the Democratic Party.

But nobody seems to have noticed. I did not see Soros's canard reported in other places, and on the Times' website on the day I saw it there were only four comments. Imagine the outcry if a Republican moneybags--say, Richard Mellon Scaife--had declared that Hillary Clinton is a communist or that Bill Clinton's America had been in need of a certain de-Stalinization process. But I hear no outcry from Soros's congregation. People who were repelled by Bush's rather plausible notion of the "axis of evil" seem untroubled by Soros's imputation of even worse evil to Bush.


Peretz prints a transcript of a 1998 "60 Minutes" interview that makes his charges all the more disturbing:
[CBS Reporter Steve] Kroft: "You're a Hungarian Jew ..."
Soros: "Mm-hmm."

Kroft: "... who escaped the Holocaust ..."

Soros: "Mm-hmm."

Kroft: "... by posing as a Christian."

Soros: "Right."

Kroft: "And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps."
Soros: "Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made."

Kroft: "In what way?"

Soros: "That one should think ahead. One should understand that--and anticipate events and when, when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a-- a very personal threat of evil."

Kroft: "My understanding is that you went ... went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews."

Soros: "Yes, that's right. Yes."

Kroft: "I mean, that's--that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?"

Soros: "Not, not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't ... you don't see the connection. But it was--it created no--no problem at all."

Kroft: "No feeling of guilt?"

Soros: "No."

Kroft: "For example, that, 'I'm Jewish, and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be these, I should be there.' None of that?"

Soros: "Well, of course, ... I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was--well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in the markets--that is I weren't there--of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would--would--would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the--whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the--I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt."


Clearly, the President has some things to apologize for.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Cognitive Dissonance:

"The introduction of a new cognition that is dissonant with a currently held cognition creates a state of "dissonance," the magnitude of which relates to the relative importance of the involved cognitions. Dissonance can be reduced either by eliminating dissonant cognitions, or by adding new consonant cognitions. The maximum possible dissonance is equal to the resistance to change of the less resistant cognition; therefore, once dissonance reaches a level that overcomes the resistance of one of the cognitions involved, that cognition will be changed or eliminated, and dissonance will be reduced.

This leads some people who feel dissonance to seek information that will reduce dissonance and avoid information that will increase dissonance. People who are involuntarily exposed to information that increases dissonance are likely to discount that information, either by ignoring it, misinterpreting it, or denying it."

This is how "reasonable people" support the Democratic Party.

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2007 3:38 PM

Super Bowl Commercials

I didn't get too excited over the game yesterday. Usually I find one team I like or dislike, but yesterday I just basked in the warm glow of racial harmony that swept this great nation as we finally had two African-American head coaches in the Super Bowl. Congrats Colts. Tony Dungy is truly a great guy, and I will generally take the AFC team.

Now, on to the important stuff -- what were the best commercials? I don't think it was a banner year by any stretch, but I liked a few:

  • CareerBuilder.com's "Don't just survive the workweek" were good. The "Office Space" humor and inventive use of office supplies were clever. I give it high marks because the message really supports the product.

  • GoDaddy.com has effectively positioned itself as a part of the Super Bowl. "Everybody wants to work in Marketing" carried the theme. (Full disclosure: ThreeSources.com is registered through GoDaddy as are several other domains I own/rent.)

  • Bud Light is expected to add to the Super Bowl as well. I really liked "The Hitchhiker." "He's got Bud Light, we should pick him up." "He's got an Ax!" Great coda at the end where the guy with an ax doesn't want to pick up the guy with a chain saw.

  • Negative points to Schick (or was it Gillette?) for running an old spot in the first half: "Hot chick falls off treadmill because dude’s shave is so good." I was insulted! We get brand new commercials with high production values and serious attempts at cleverness in the first half of the Super Bowl -- it's our right as Americans!

D'I miss one?

Extra bonus: The halftime show with Prince was good. I was never a fan, and almost fainted when he came out with the Aunt Jemima babushka on, but by the time he got to "Purple Rain" in the rain, even this grouchy old jazz guy was dialed in. Praise NED, there was no "costume malfunction."

UPDATE: Perfesser Reynolds likes and links to the Emerald Nuts "Robert Goulet " spot. That was top notch as well.

UPDATE II: Sacha Zimmerman writes fior TNR, so she is clearly too intelligent to enjoy any commercial. She pans them all, but adds this observaion:

You'll find that in order to re-watch some of your favorite ads from last night on YouTube, you'll have to first sit through a 15-second pre-commercial. The ad before the ad. It's so meta, I can't stand it.

UPDATE III: Dave Barry beat me to the "wardrobe malfunction" joke. You will not be surprised that he did it better.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:15 AM | What do you think? [4]
But sugarchuck thinks:

The brokeback snickers commercial generated a lot of discussion... Hollywood's attempt to undermine the spirit of the day perhaps? Prince killed, even if his glyphness looked like he just shared a snickers himself. All in all, a great day, great game and now we begin seven months of darkness.

Posted by: sugarchuck at February 5, 2007 12:40 PM
But jk thinks:

Two words for sc: Stanley. Cup.

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2007 1:31 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I almost fell outta my chair on the Blockbuster mouse commercial!

The Bud "Slap" was the only other one I really liked.

I thought the NAACP-mandated commercials were a waste of time,..but that's IMN-SHO, OK?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 5, 2007 9:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, the Blockbuster mouse was great.

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2007 10:16 AM

Got the sue me, sue you blues

The famously litigious Beatles have finally settled the trademark lawsuit between Apple Corps and Apple, Inc. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Under a new deal that replaces one reached in 1991, Apple will own all of the trademarks related to "Apple" and license some of those back to Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles' record label. The trademark lawsuit between the companies will be withdrawn. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

"We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks," said Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs in a prepared statement. "It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future."

My favorite part of Eric Idle's "The Rutles" satire was when Stig spends most of his typical day filing and responding to lawsuits. Of course, the Beatles sued over that.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:49 AM

February 4, 2007

Pigou Jumps Shark

L Gregory Mankiw pleads the Pigovian case in cartoon form today. I am even less impressed.

The first takes a whack at his old boss, choosing the good press of Ethanol subsidies over the efficacious gas tax. The second claims that the gas tax is the way to erase the deficit, except stupid Americans will not accept it. The third makes hippie protesters the butt of the joke. You'd think I'd like it but in fairness to dirty hippies everywhere, few of them would strenuously oppose gas taxes.

You see, foolish people, Gas taxes will provide peace on earth, clear skies and water, Brittney Spears will find marital bliss, everything. Only you are too stupid to accept it! There are some reasonable arguments for gas taxes (I have dissented from even those). But every couple of days I see another unserious argument. A commenter provides: "Prof.Pigou was one of the handsomest economists in the history of economic thought."

Oh.

But Guy Montag thinks:

I am really amazed (not) that the American Left hates old and poor people as much as Europeans do. Thank goodness there are fewer of them here, and less in positions of power since the departure of James Earl Carter III from the Presidency.

Raising the gas tax just gets lost in the rounding for me at any speed or horsepower. It is really unfair to the people who are not as well off as me, or are in the same financial shape I was in just a few years ago.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 4, 2007 8:25 PM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

The newly elected governor of Ohio was recently amazed to discover exactly how reliant the state government is on the revenue generated from the Pigouvian tax on cigarettes:

“We’re of two minds when it comes to cigarettes, aren’t we?” said Gov. Ted Strickland. “We don’t want people to smoke, yet we need the revenue coming from the tax. That’s just one of the multiple contradictions that we find in our society and probably within our budget.”

Yet Mankiw continues to plug the tax as a way to fund current and future deficits. I'm confused. Do we want people to buy gasoline or not? The tax sends mixed signals.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at February 5, 2007 10:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Even more importantly, who gave the government powers to decide cigarettes bad, Cheetos good, gas okay...

Some people clearly see "gas bad." I suppose we can now create the abbreviation EPB for "Even President Bush..."

I see the 535 Moralists-in-Chief in Washington and remain committed to using the tax code only to raise revenue, not control behavior.

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2007 11:12 AM

jk Falls Into MySpace

I hate to make fun of somebody who has strong beliefs and cares for animals. But I am betting that that is all I have in common with "Tab." Tab has a MySpace page that plays music at you and tells you that "One by One, We Can start to make poverty history." (Funny, I believe that too, but I suspect she does not mean it as embracing the economics of F.A. Hayek.)

I found Tab from Pam's Blog, which I found from Riehl World View from Instapundit, after reading Ann Althouse. If you need a segue, that link list begins and ends in Madison, WI.

The topic is THE polar bear picture. Poor sad, cute, fuzzy bear, stuck on an ice floe because Americans shop at big box stores -- you've seen it. Althouse points out that the cute little fuzzy bear is just looking for a cuter, littler, baby harp seal to kill and devour.

To the rest of the world, that picture is conclusive proof of Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe (DAWG). The poor thing is stranded (never mind they can swim 15 miles like you can walk around the block).

But the picture works. It engenders such powerful sympathy and compassion in Tab that she wants everybody to die:

this picture makes me want to cry...what have we done? fuck it's so overwhelming at times...sometimes i think it would be easier if there was an Armageddon, rather than watching us slowly destroy life....thank God for people who are paying attention and trying to make a difference...Thank you for looking outside yourself and working for the good of all creatures big and small.

I don’t troll MySpace or make comments. These people want to express personal feelings and are not looking for a philosophical or political argument. I just hit the back button on my browser until I am back in the political blogosphere. But my voyeurism leaves me disquieted, both by the ease with which these people can be manipulated and their millenarian, anti-modernity agenda.


February 3, 2007

I Want To Take Those Profits

The Junior Senator from New York says she can spend oil company profits better that the companies can.

Larry Kudlow showed it on his program last night and provides a YouTube of her saying it. Kudlow says "Sure sounds like socialism..." and offers his perspective on the same story.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Ian Hamet thinks:

Actually, what it sounds like is fascism, since she isn't saying she's going to nationalize the industry. She's just taking their profits.

Posted by: Ian Hamet at February 3, 2007 6:15 PM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Yep, National Socialism pure and simple. The same solution that she has to 'drug company profits' as if "profit" is something tacked on at the end, on top of what the 'real' price should be.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 4, 2007 2:28 AM

Fuel Efficiency

Hooray! Alternative fuels come to Philly!

The Shell gas station at 12th and Vine Streets now offers ethanol and biodiesel fuels.
Customer John Maratay's truck can run on regular gas or e85, a fuel is comprised mostly of ethanol made from corn byproduct.

On Friday, he filled it the first time with e85 gasoline.

"You know the carbon footprint might be a little smaller now," said Maratay.

Customer Jack Waterloo said he drove 25 miles to test out the gas station's biodiesel pump.


Would I brag about driving 25 miles out of my way to get some biodiesel?

Probably not.

Think of the CO2 emitted. He's killing polar bears and contributing to global warming climate change so he can feel better about himself.

No, I wouldn't brag about it unless it's less than used to drive for a biodiesel fix.

“I'll drive this car from this gas station on biodiesel to Miami, which is 1,200 miles away, without refueling. I'll average over 60 mph per gallon,” said Waterloo.

He said he's done it before but had to drive to Baltimore[105 miles. -ed] to fill up.


Saving the environment or feeling better about yourself? You be the judge.

Someone get this guy a Pious.

1002_its_a_hybrid.jpg

But johngalt thinks:

If you follow the link in my Ethanol Myth post you'll see some related articles (subscription required) that discuss ethanol fuel:

Hot topics in the ethanol debate says - "Considering the entire “well to wheel” process, including growing and harvesting the corn, and producing, shipping, and burning the ethanol, David Friedman, the clean vehicles research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says that E85 made from corn provides an 8 to 15 percent reduction per mile today. That is countered by Tad Patzek, professor of geoengineering at the University of California at Berkeley. He says the “equivalent CO2 emissions from corn ethanol are 50 percent higher than those from gasoline.”

Tests of ethanol vs. gasoline shows NOx emissions from gasoline as 9 ppm vs. 1 ppm from E85, but HC and CO emissions are identical at 1 pmm and 0 ppm, respectively.

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2007 6:00 PM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Yep, if they were driving the kind of 'hybrid' I drive this would not be a problem at all :)

Still debating Holly or Edelbrock hydrogen delivery systems for the six-pack . . .

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 4, 2007 2:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Edelbrock! That's what feeds the 340 4 bbl. in my convertible '68 Barracuda.

Posted by: johngalt at February 4, 2007 6:23 PM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Fuel efficiency is defined by turning fuel into horsepower at the fastest rate possible.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 4, 2007 8:06 PM
But jk thinks:

I had a 6-pack Holly in my younger days. I could never get the linkage adjusted properly. It was a 2-barrel until floored when all six would kick in.

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2007 10:30 AM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Was that on a MOPAR or something else? On MOPAR the outboards open from the vacume, not a mechanical linkage.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 7, 2007 4:46 PM

A Resolution I Can Support

Fellow Colorado blogger Terri at I think ^(link) therefore I err has written an alternate non-binding resolution, and one I could most certainly support:

1) Continue to let the troops know they have my full support and not in a William Arkin sort of way.

2) Not vote for any Senator who votes for a non-binding, or a binding resolution requesting extra benchmarks or no extra troops as requested

3) Actively campaign against Senator Salazar who has decided to now call the Iraq war a quagmire along with his Democratic colleagues because he thinks it's expedient I'm sure. He was voted in as a moderate and now he thinks he was voted in because of a Democrat "surge". He's incorrect.

4) Continue calling the numbers on Hugh's website to voice my opinion!


Scroll up to the Global Warming resolution as well.

UPDATE: And Welcome to the blogroll. A good excuse to add a Colorado section.

But Terri thinks:

Hey thanks for the link and the Blogroll!
You've been added to mine too, but I needed to switch over to wordpress. Beta blogger was not working on my Mac for longer than I wanted, so I went ahead and switched. Same name, just .worpress

Posted by: Terri at February 13, 2007 12:45 PM

February 2, 2007

Government Accounting

Here's a story that's hard to believe...

    A recent audit of cash-strapped Camden, N.J. school district's finances found it was paying an employee $130,000 annually — and he's been dead for more than three decades.

    City officials were shocked by the discovery.


No!! Not as shocked as the poor f*cker is going to be who's been cashing those checks....
    Camden has been plagued with scandal and is known as the nation's poorest city.

    The audit also found outside vendors have been overpaid more than $17 million. In one case the district forked over $953,000 for copy equipment even though the purchase order was for only $55,000.


So who got the $900K?

This is criminal.

A lot of people need to be hauled into a courtroom. Outrageous.

But jk thinks:

Come on, ac, you worry too much. The dead teacher probably did a lot less damage to the children than his living peers, didn't overuse the health care benefit -- don't always look on the dark side.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2007 11:14 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

It isn't criminal, Alex,..its ops-normal in Camden ( and probably in Philly, too, if we ever get a chance to dig a little).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 3, 2007 12:05 PM

A new Galt

Mrs. Galt and I have been busy the past two days. (Well, mostly Mrs. Galt.)

(Click thumbnail to enlarge)

"Danica Charlotte" was born February 1. 7 pounds 3.1 ounces, 20 inches and full of joy.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Congrats and good health to all three of you!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 2, 2007 9:29 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Congratulations! Any story behind the names?

We were going to pick "Charlotte" for my daughter... but four years later, she seems like more of a Veronica.

Posted by: AlexC at February 2, 2007 11:06 PM
But Ian Hamet thinks:

Congratulations, JG! Here's hoping you and the missus manage to get some sleep sometime before February 2008. :-D

Posted by: Ian Hamet at February 2, 2007 11:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Congrats! Woohoo!

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2007 10:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks from dagny and me for the warm wishes guys.

I first heard the name Danica when a friend of mine dated a woman by that name. And then, of course, there is the semi-famous racing driver with "above average" looks named Danica Patrick. We looked it up and found it's eastern european meaning "morning star" - a good fit for the daughter of an amateur meteorologist. Charlotte is my grandmother's middle name. Grandma's 100th birthday will be in December, having been born in that month of the year 1907 - 100 years prior to the year of Dani's birth.

With Dani's big sister we perfected nighttime feedings into an art form: Dagny rolled over and retrieved the crying infant from the bedside bassinet, returned the nourished loved one to her restful sleep, and left the diapers for me to change. This I did, happily and cheerfully, after the first morning feeding. This became so routine that I never woke before the alarm bell and dagny's sleep was reasonably restful too. (At least that's the way I remember it.) :) Hopefully the same procedure will be popular on the second go-round.

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2007 6:23 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Hey JG, daughters are so cool! (said the guy with three daughters) Congratulations to you and Dagny!

Posted by: sugarchuck at February 3, 2007 6:39 PM

That Won't Hurt the Economy Enough!

A good friend of this blog sent me two links the other day that deserve reading and comment. The first was some Canadians nominating VP Albert Gore, Jr. for a Nobel Peace Prize. [Insert your own Taranto joke here.]

That disturbed me so deeply, I couldn't face it until today. The second link is probably worse.

Reuters reports that the NFL's voluntary tree planting to offset carbon emissions related to Super Bowl XLEIEIO is not good enough for the enviros.

The National Football League is hoping to tackle the game's heat-trapping gas emissions by planting 3,000 mangroves and other trees native to Florida, but the plan could be more of an incomplete pass than a touchdown when it comes to global warming, experts said.

"It's probably a nice thing to do, but planting trees is not a quantitative solution to the real problem," said Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University.


The fifth letter of DAWG would have to be something that recognizes DAWG as an engineering and not an economics problem. Mirrors in space, iron in the ocean to support seaweed, and the creation of more plant life on land could all mitigate CO2 and provide animal life with more oxygen.

Philip Duffy, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is not impressed. "If you plant a tree (CO2 reductions are) only temporary for the life of the tree," he said. "If you don't emit in the first place, then that permanently reduces CO2."

So, a tree (or 3,000 trees) is too temporal for Doctor Duffy. But not taking a trip to the mall on Saturday is permanent.

The real problem is that they don't want to cut emissions -- they want to disrupt modernity and innovation. If you could prove that planning 3,000 mangrove trees would hurt the economy, I'd bet they'd be in.

VP Gore with an Oscar and a Nobel Prize. These are dark times indeed.


But AlexC thinks:

I'm rooting for Rush to win the Peace Prize.

Posted by: AlexC at February 2, 2007 11:07 PM
But Guy Montag thinks:

I happen to be working this event (have been in Miami since 12 January) and there is another interesting story related to this.

"Parking lot 20" was created just a few days ago by leveling an empty field. The crew was on the news mowing down everything in sight.

Not sure where it is located in relation to my position (I am in a communications truck in another lot) and have not seen it in person, but I sort of thought that mowing down all of the greenery might be a little "counter green" :)

Please, do not think that i am on the side of the 'environmentalists' on this one, I am just adding information to this silly 'debate'.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 4, 2007 2:40 AM
But jk thinks:

That sounds a fair point!

I don't so much mean to defend the NFL (we'll see in six hours whether defense wins championships). I mean to highlight that the "warmies" are uninterested in engineering or mitigation solutions. They want us to abandon all the things they find distasteful more than they want to fix the problem.

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2007 12:37 PM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Correction: I arrived for the event on 19 January 2007, not 12 January.

Glad Castro was not announced as dead while I was down there. I made it back to Northern VA to 23 degree weather and a misbehaving heat pump.

Interesting technical note: during the flyover Cingular dropped my cell call.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 7, 2007 4:52 PM

The Wrong DIrection for the FDA

I am frequently and consistently disappointed by Republicans. They forget their principles routinely. When their hearts and mind are in the right place, they seem ineffective and pusillanimous compared to the folks across the aisle.

Yet I can never credibly threaten to abandon them (though I stand by my pledge) because the Democrats are effective, just at moving the wrong way. Yes, the Democrats won the 110th fair and square. Yes, I knew there would be legislative consequences. Yes I knew my beloved pharmaceutical sector would be severely threatened.

But right out of the chute, I see Senator Kennedy on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in Drug Industry Faces Bitter Pill. (Paid link, sorry!) Keep in mind that this is the fairly liberal news division, not my right wing wackos on the Editorial Page.

Congress is kicking off efforts to pass big reforms of the Food and Drug Administration, and that could produce some bitter pills for the pharmaceutical industry: potentially, tougher safety rules and provisions to reduce the cost of medicines.

Uh-oh,
Proposals to beef up regulation have stalled before, often due to skepticism from Republican allies of the industry. This year is likely to be different. Democrats aren't reluctant to give expanded authority to federal regulators and see the drug industry as a tempting target because of its tenuous popularity with consumers and its traditional ties to Republicans. And they're getting support from some Republicans upset by a series of high-profile drug-safety problems, including the 2004 withdrawal of the painkiller Vioxx.

Also, lawmakers have a ready-made vehicle for the changes: legislation that must be approved this year to renew the deal under which the industry pays fees to fund much of the FDA's drug-review process. The current user-fee agreement expires later this year.

"It's pretty clear we have drug-safety problems, and it's clear we need to address those matters," says Rep. John Dingell (D., Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FDA. Several lawmakers say the agency's latest drug-safety initiatives, announced Tuesday, need to be bolstered with new legislation.


"Pretty clear we have a safety problem is Rep. Dingell-speak for "It's pretty clear my committee needs to take over this sector of the economy."

So we will cut their profits with price controls, scare off their investors with endless Congressional hearings, then regulate the crap out of what's left. But we're going to raise subsidies for stem-cell research, as long as the researcher can categorically prove that it will disturb the President.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 6:25 PM

The Blizzard of '13

SugarChuck and I like to talk about the old days, when we were kids in Denver. Sometimes we'll tell the youngsters about the Blizzard of 1913.

Jason at HMS Lydia has some cool pix.

Very cool.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:16 PM

Does NHS pay?

Twiglet, a 12-year-old grey tabby (yes, "grey" she lives in old Blighty) has become the first cat in Britain on Prozac

A ginger tom had chased her and even jumped through the cat flap to attack her in her own kitchen.
"When I took her to the vet I was told she had anxiety issues and depression brought on by the stress of being bullied by other cats," said Miss Martin.

Twiglet was prescribed the Prozac-like drug amitriptyline, to be taken once a day. The vet also put her on a strict diet and Miss Martin sent a note to her neighbours asking them not to feed her pet.


Happy endings ensue -- better living through chemistry. My 12-year old pooch has been on Rimadyl for a few years. Her boyfriend across the street may go on Vicodin (any "House" fans?).

Seriously, after the FDA shuts down all research in the US (paid link, sorry), maybe research for pet medications will be modified for use with homo sapiens.

Hat-tip: Mickey Kaus who also wonders why Senator Clinton has not gotten "nearly enough grief for declaring, of the Iraq War: 'The President has said this is going to be left to his successor. I think it's the height of irresponsibility, and I really resent it'" Good point.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 12:22 PM

Gettin' By on $47/hour

A new study of public school teacher compensation has been published this week, and its authors publish a summary in the Wall Street Journal (free link).

Who, on average, is better paid--public school teachers or architects? How about teachers or economists? You might be surprised to learn that public school teachers are better paid than these and many other professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned $34.06 per hour in 2005, 36% more than the hourly wage of the average white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty or technical worker.
[...]
It would also be beneficial if the debate touched on the correlation between teacher pay and actual results. To wit, higher teacher pay seems to have no effect on raising student achievement. Metropolitan areas with higher teacher pay do not graduate a higher percentage of their students than areas with lower teacher pay.

In fact, the urban areas with the highest teacher pay are famous for their abysmal outcomes. Metro Detroit leads the nation, paying its public school teachers, on average, $47.28 per hour. That's 61% more than the average white-collar worker in the Detroit area and 36% more than the average professional worker. In metro New York, public school teachers make $45.79 per hour, 20% more than the average professional worker in that area. And in Los Angeles teachers earn $44.03 per hour, 23% higher than other professionals in the area.

Yes, it would be nice if legislation were based on real data instead of public sentiment. Who believes that is going to happen?

Education Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM

Is the ex-VP in town?

I see it is 20 below at Atlantis Farm and understand a new record low for the day was set at DIA. Usually we don't get temps like that unless Vice President Gore is in town for a global warming summit, or I've accidentally woken up in Minnesota or something.

We lost power for three hours last night and lived the Willa Cather existence. Well, imagine a Willa Cather character with a new 80GB video iPod. I wrapped myself in some blankets and watched my favorite Firefly episode ("Objects in Space") and a Norah Jones concert from House of Blues in New Orleans.

Put that in the Reynolds file. Imagine showing a video iPod to a 1970s high school student. I bought it to replace one of the original 40GB (you know, the ones that ran on diesel with a crank starter). I thought I'd never use the video feature that much but it was great to have last night.


Posted by John Kranz at 10:16 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, the air temp at 7 am on 2.2.07 was -23F, but the wind chill was -34F! I'm glad I was in a warm hospital room overnight instead of feeding our horses out on the farm. :) (Thanks machochick!)

Click for Image

It's interesting to note how much more wind is required to produce 10 degrees of wind chill at +20F than at -20F.

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2007 7:21 PM

February 1, 2007

Dirty Hippies

A perfect example of "dirty hippies".

Here are the two knuckleheads that shut down Boston.

BX10202011711-big.jpg

Advised not to speak to the media about their "ad campaign." They held a press conference outside of the courthouse.

How much bong water did these guys drink? I'm almost rooting for them to go to jail.


BLOCK THAT METAPHOR!

One thing I miss from reading Andrew Sullivan is his "Block that Metaphor!" feature. I'll play today.

Eve Fairbanks pens a piece in TNR called Fifty ways to leave your occupied country about the plethora (yes, I think you could call it a plethora) of Democratic House bills to end the Iraq war.

The column is pretty good.

It's a brutally competitive world out there for Democratic representatives with ideas on Iraq. Even though the leadership has decided to let the Senate make the first move (which will be a nonbinding resolution condemning Bush's plans), Iraq is a hot and fertile topic, and bills are sprouting in the House like mushrooms. Many of them seem, at first glance, strangely redundant: H.R. 508 calls for a full redeployment (within six months)--as do H.R. 455 (by December 31), H.J. Res. 18 ("at the earliest practicable date"), and H.R. 413 ("in a safe and orderly manner"). But the market is not yet saturated. Several other representatives, including Steve Israel of New York and James McGovern of Massachusetts, are considering putting out their own. "There's gonna be more," says a Democratic aide with a sigh.

Why are so many Iraq bills flourishing? The atmosphere on the Hill is one of the freest for Democrats in memory: Many are experiencing being in the majority for the first time, and they're stretching their arms and whipping out the plans that had lain dormant under Republican rule. "Maybe [these bill-producing congressmen] had ideas before and their staff was like, 'No.' And now they're like, 'We can't stop them!'" explains an aide to a representative with a bill.


But this sentence red-lined the metaphor gauge:
[Susan] Sarandon was there to promo the Iraq bill put out by Woolsey, Waters, and Barbara Lee: As competing bills struggle to survive, these representatives were hoping that Sarandon would give legs to their bill so it would crawl out of the muck and walk in the sunlight.

Umm, yeah. Something like that.

But Guy Montag thinks:

Plenty of interesting turns of phrase in that story, but just how much may be twisted about and just how much may be Fairbanksing?

Yes, there are no shortage of political workers in the DC area that can supply any 'reporter' with any sort of quote that they want. Sad thing is, too many reporters seem to write their stories in advance and some have been known to imagine the anonymous quotes that make it into print.

The reporter you are quoting has a history of fabrication.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 3, 2007 12:39 AM
But jk thinks:

I had read that story about the "date" but did not remember the name or make the connection. Thanks for the reminder. Knowing Ms. Fairbanks is out there makes me even more glad that I am married.

I read TNR to try and connect with people who think very differently. Fear not, I sprinkle adequate grains of salt on everything they publish.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2007 11:07 AM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Actually, I think that first link is the best example of her 'work' rather than the story I was in.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 4, 2007 8:13 PM

Sen Hagel for Shoe Czar!

Deputy Editor Mark Lasswell, of the Wall Street Journal has a little fun with Senator Chuck Hagel's recent soundbite-of-the-week, lambasting his fellow Senators "If you want a safe job -- sell shoes!"

Lasswell finds the comparison quizzical. Checking police statistics, selling shoes has a nonzero robbery rate. Schumpeterian gales and consolidation make the career choice not completely safe for job security. Lasswell points out, deftly, what I suspect we all thought when we saw it. There cannot possibly be a cushier job than U.S. Senator.

But then as now, senators will find a way to make their views known. One of Sen. Hagel's neighbors from out West, for instance, Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, voted for the resolution on Iraq in 2002 and doesn't need to be dared to express his support for the president's war policy in 2007. The senator simply posts it on his Web site: "President Bush is making strategy adjustments in order to improve stability. We're not talking about just Iraq here. We are trying to prevent a catastrophic blowup that would not only be traumatic for the Middle East, but would send reverberations throughout the world." As it happens, before Sen. Enzi got started in politics, he was a small-business owner with stores in Wyoming and eventually one over in Sen. Hagel's home state. What sort of business? Selling shoes.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:11 PM

Propeller-Head? Moi

Dagny is rolling her eyes by now, but I just have to post a banner showing the local weather conditions at... Atlantis Farm.

On Monday I received my new weather station, assembled it and installed the batteries. Tuesday evening I mounted the sensor suite on a post in the yard. Tonight I installed the software and connected the console to the PC. Then I configured it to upload data to Weather Underground every 5 minutes, from whence this banner originates.

Dagny thinks it's cool, but not as cool as I do.

Colorado Posted by JohnGalt at 2:29 AM | What do you think? [7]
But AlexC thinks:

My vote is for "very sweet."

Posted by: AlexC at February 1, 2007 1:46 PM
But jk thinks:

I live about 12 miles from jg, at about the same elevation. You can bet my weather is pretty close. I think we need to get the Pennsylvania weather now. AC? I'll find them both a home in the navigation bar.

What concerns me is that the Longitude and Longitude coordinates could be used by the forces of darkness and the enemies of modernity to program into their GPS bombs.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2007 5:01 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Despite what I might think, I'm not sure Mrs AlexC would think $1,000 for a weatherstation would be that "sweet."

But my zip code is 19426 if you're interested.

Man... I'd like to see my poolside temp on the web though....

Posted by: AlexC at February 2, 2007 12:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I forgot. I was reminded on TV this morning that Pennsylvanians predict the weather with rodents. You wouldn't need a $1000 weather station.

Happy early spring! Happy Groundhog Day!

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2007 12:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I was hoping you'd make it a permanent addition.

There are other stations available for way less than $1K. Some are from Davis (wireless version for $100 more) and some from elsewhere. I got a 40% discount on Davis through my employer that I could proxy for any interested ThreeSourcer.

There are other personal weather stations that may be even closer to you JK (and anyone else for that matter.) They can be viewed graphically here. (Just enter your zip code)

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2007 9:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Here are the personal weather stations around Collegeville, PA (zip code 19426) presented graphically on a Google Map. Which one is closest to you, AlexC? Maybe we can create a banner for that station.

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2007 7:05 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)